Janer building at University of Puerto Rico

Janer building at University of Puerto Rico

Educator and writer. He served as the first assistant rector of the University of Puerto Rico in 1903, as well as being a professor of the Spanish language and literature for the institution. He was the author of theatrical works, poetry and text books.

He was born in Humacao on May 1, 1855, the son of lawyer Bartolomé Janer, a native of Andalusia, and a Puerto Rican, Edivigis Soler. He began his studies in San Germán. Later, he moved to San Juan to continue his education at the San Ildefonso Council Seminary, where he completed his studies in 1873. A year later, he passed the exam to become a primary school teacher.

Janer worked as a teacher in San Juan and in 1880 he began teaching in Río Piedras. In 1884, he founded a school in Old San Juan and, later, another in San Lorenzo. In 1887, he established a high school in Guayama. At that time, he moved to Spain to earn a teaching degree at the Central University of Madrid.

Upon returning from Spain, he continued his work in education. When the University of Puerto Rico was founded in 1903, Felipe Janer Soler was named assistant rector. He also organized the Spanish language and literature department, in which he taught courses until his retirement from the faculty in 1926.

Through independent studies, he earned a pharmacy degree from Ohio University in 1911 and a doctoral degree in philosophy from the Oskaloosa University in the United States. The University of Puerto Rico awarded him the honor of Professor Emeritus in 1925.

As a writer, he tried his hand at scriptwriting with romantic theatrical works. When he was just 18 years old, he wrote Juguete cómico (a musical, light and brief theatrical piece) and Un sutil arrancado (1873). The existence of this work was unknown until Professor Herman Reichard Esteves donated a copy to the Puerto Rican Athenaeum. It was published in 1993 with a brief introductory study by Roberto Ramos Perea in the Puerto Rican Athenaeum magazine.

In 1879, Elección por gratitud, a one-act comedy written in verse, was unveiled, followed in 1880 by El secreto de un padre, a dramatic one-act sketch. All of his works were presented in the Eguilaz Theater, a small theater space built in the San Juan home of Rafael Cabrera. Among the actors in the works were Janer himself and members of the Cabrera family.

As a poet, his first verses were published in the press in 1880. After his retirement, he returned to poetry with the publication of Selecciones poéticas (1926), an anthology that collected the lyrical works of Puerto Rican and Latin American poets, as well as a selection of his own poems.

As an educator, he produced textbooks that were used in the island’s schools, including Elementos de cosmografía y geografía particular de la isla de Puerto Rico (1883), Teoría de la caligrafía (1887), Cartilla del sistema métrico decimal (1888) and Silabario o método rápido de lecturas para uso de las escuelas primarias (1893).

After earning certification as an English teacher after the change of sovereignty on the island in 1898, he worked with the Department of Public Education on a handbook for teachers titled Syllabus of Work for the Porto Rico Teachers’ Institutes, 1904-1905, which he prepared along with Susan D. Huntington and Paul G. Miller. In 1919, his most ambitious work was published: Gramática castellana, which was also used in the schools of the island.

He died March 18, 1929, at his home in Río Piedras. In 1927, the University of Puerto Rico named one of the buildings on the campus in his honor.

By the PROE Editorial Group

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: December 01, 2009.

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