Over the course of 65 years, some things about a university change quite a bit and others don’t change at all, says John Rooney, emeritus professor of psychology at La Salle University. Rooney started teaching at La Salle in 1947. Though he’s retired from teaching, at age 92 he’s still involved in the life of the university, serving as assistant director of the master’s program in psychology, which he helped start.
“I don’t want to stay on beyond my time, but I enjoy meeting the incoming students [and] seeing their enthusiasm,” he says. “It regenerates my energy just to talk to them.”
When he started at La Salle, many students were the first in their families to attend college. “Their families didn’t necessarily understand the demands,” Rooney says, so he was instrumental in starting a counseling program for WWII vets and other students.
Today, La Salle is seeing a new group of first-generation students: those from minority and other underserved populations. “The actual number is still lower than it should be,” he says. “But it’s increasing, both at La Salle and nationally.”
Rooney has written a memoir, “Bleachers in the Bedroom: The Swampoodle Irish and Connie Mack,” which tells of his boyhood living across the street from Shibe Park. He recently donated partial proceeds to the university.