By all accounts it was a fitting and touching public memorial held for Indiana University South Bend Chancellor Emeritus Lester M. Wolfson last night on campus. Wolfson passed away on February 10, 2017 at the age of 93. He was the first and longest serving chancellor at IU South Bend.
Current IU South Bend Chancellor Terry L. Allison hosted the memorial which featured speakers, musical performances, a poetry reading, and a special presentation of the Chancellor’s Medal. Speakers included Indiana University Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate, retired IU South Bend Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Alfred J. Guillaume, Jr., Professor Ken Smith, George Wolfson (son) and Margaret Wolfson (daughter).
Two students performed. Joseph Bush played Chaconne in d minor on piano and Victoria Schemenauer sang Der Nussbaum by Robert Schmann. The event concluded with a performance of Sonata in A Major, OP 13, Allegro molto by pianist Ketaven Badridze and violinist Jameson Cooper.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Chancellor’s Medal posthumously. It was accepted by Daniel Wolfson, Lester Wolfson’s grandson.
In his remarks Chancellor Allison said, Dr. Wolfson laid the foundation for accessible public higher education in our region, excellence in teaching, the great intellectual vibrancy of our academic programs, and engagement with the community in mutually benefit partnership.
In 1964, Wolfson was selected as Director and Assistant Dean of IU South Bend. In 1969, he was named chancellor and served in that position until retiring in 1987.
Wolfson was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Michigan. His teaching experience prior to IU South Bend included Wayne State University, University of Houston, University of California Santa Barbara, and Indiana University Gary. He received an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from Indiana University in 1988. The degree was presented to him by IU President Thomas Ehrlich at commencement ceremonies in South Bend. The life, career, and impact of Wolfson on IU South Bend and the community can be found in the book A Campus Becoming published by the Wolfson Press at IU South Bend.