Victor Munsch: Shipping, receiving, stockroom guru

Three key staff members retire with a combined 77 years of service—Joseph Franek, Eileen Harvala, and Victor Munsch

Victor "Vic" Munsch is retiring after 41 years of outstanding service with the Department of Chemistry. He started working for the department on Sept. 4, 1979, just three days after his marriage to wife Rose. He worked for more than 28 years in shipping and receiving and more than 12 years managing the Chemistry Research Stockroom.

Not too bad for what was supposed to be a temporary job for a two-year period while Vic waited for his wife to graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Saint Paul campus. Vic and Rose met at the University of Minnesota Crookston, where he received an associate degree in parks and recreation, initially planning to become a National Park Ranger.

After Rose graduated, they started a family and, “the next thing I knew, I had been here for 10 years, deciding to make a career of it,” said Vic.

Over his 41 years in the chemistry department, Victor has seen many changes, including the growth of the stockroom. For example, he has seen many evolutions on how stockroom sales were processed. Sales were once handwritten and taken to the accounting office where charges were made to the appropriate budgets. That system evolved into punch cards and ticker tapes. Computers arrived in 1983—a system called Heath Kits with green and orange screens. Eventually that evolved into Chembiz, the current sales system.

Forty-one years of service has resulted in many memories and colleagues who have become treasured friends. Victor was hired by Lorville “Andy” Anderson, and he worked alongside Mike Kurth in the stockroom and Dale Randall in the teaching labs. Dale became the supervisor in October 1984, and Vic was hired as stockroom manager when Dale retired in 2008.

“The three of us have worked together in some form for all these years,” said Victor. “Even after retirement, Dale and Mike came back as casual hires. I owe much to Mike and Dale. I would not have been able to keep the stockroom operating as well without their help over all these years. They mean a lot to me.”

Victor has also developed important relationships with external vendors.

“As manager, I discovered early how important it was to build relationships with external vendors,” he said. “I told them my job was not only to save the University grant money, but I would be saving our own tax dollars at the same time. I feel my good rapport with the many vendors that I dealt with on a day-to-day basis has helped keep the stockroom pricing in check through the years.”

Victor cares deeply about the Department of Chemistry and University. Shortly after the campus closed in March 2020 due to COVID-19, he coordinated a donation from the Chemistry Research Stockroom to the University of Minnesota’s effort to collect personal protection equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support medical providers and COVID-19 researchers on campus. A total of 120 cases of gloves and several other items were collected and donated.

Recently, Victor leveraged his connections with vendors to help obtain 50,000+ pieces 

of glassware and equipment needed for 2,500 general chemistry lab kits. 

“I love working with Vic. His logistical skills and instincts are a benefit to us all. Vic, along with his staff, were critical to keeping the department operating since March during the pandemic. He called upon all of his experience and contacts to solve problems before they even happened. His dedication is unquestioned, and he takes so much institutional knowledge and history with him.”—Chuck Tomlinson, Director of Operations

One of the things that Victor has enjoyed most over the years is his interaction with graduate students. 

“I still miss delivering packages to all the labs and talking with all the students and learning about them and their lives,” said Victor. 

He has enjoyed the privilege of having his son-in-law Ben Geisbauer working in the Department for the last 13 plus years as well. 

Victor and Rose have purchased a motorhome and plan on visiting all the National Parks that they love. They also hope to bring their three children Josh, Melissa, and Erich with their spouses and families along on some of these adventures. 

“My thanks go out to the many people that I have worked with through the years in our Department and around the University,” said Victor. “I could not have done my job as well without the help of all the great people that I have had the privilege to meet here at the University of Minnesota.”