From Barracks to State-of-the-Art Buildings

Francis Burne


It had been years since Francis Burne ’48 visited Scranton. He was there to see his son, Brig. Gen. Chris Burne ’80, deliver a speech to a group of ROTC graduates. Burne, however, had other reasons to be excited. He wanted to see how the school he loved had grown. 

The Scranton that Burne knew existed almost entirely on Wyoming Avenue. Some classes were held in wooden barracks with amphitheater-style classrooms. Buildings had no air conditioning or insulation; students were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. 

Scranton was still exclusively male. Students lived in modest dorms — also in former barracks. Despite the humble lodgings, they dressed for class in shirts and ties each day. Burne likened Scranton to his first military base, only with the added excitement of a college campus. 

“Before attending the University, I was an aviation cadet,” Burne said. “Those lodgings reminded me of Scranton’s barracks. They were almost the same.” 

While 1940s Scranton reminded Burne of the Army Air Corps, the version he saw in 2011 was quite different, in a very good way. The campus had expanded further into Scranton’s lower Hill Section and had completely abandoned Wyoming Avenue. The barracks were gone. In their place were state-of-the-art buildings, where both male and female students attended class in casual wear. 

What he saw was impressive and exciting — different, but the Scranton spirit was still the same. 

“The buildings and the grounds are absolutely beautiful,” Burne said. “It’s a far cry from being in barracks!” 

-- Excerpt from alumni profile in the Fall 2013 issue of the Scranton Journal