Lester Wolfson, the first chancellor of Indiana University South Bend, has died at the age of 93. Wolfson led the campus from 1969 to 1987 and is the longest serving chancellor in the history of IU South Bend.
I had the privilege of speaking with him on the phone shortly after I arrived as chancellor, said IU South Bend Chancellor Terry L. Allison. I have a deep appreciation for his career and the service he provided IU South Bend during his 18 years as chancellor. He built the foundation of this great campus and his legacy lives on here.
Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie issued the following statement:
“Indiana University is deeply saddened by the passing of former Chancellor Wolfson, who was instrumental in the development of the IU South Bend campus into a thriving center for education and community engagement in north central Indiana. Under his leadership, the campus experienced many firsts – including new degree programs and academic facilities – and his lifelong love of literature and music ensured that the arts would always be a central part of the campus’ tradition. Our thoughts go out to Chancellor Wolfson’s family, friends and loved ones, as we pay tribute to his many achievements and the lasting contributions he made to the South Bend community.”
Prior to Wolfson’s service as chancellor at IU South Bend, he was Associate Professor of English at Indiana University Gary (now IU Northwest) until 1964, when he was selected as Director and Assistant Dean of IU South Bend. In 1969, he was named chancellor and retired 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.
A public memorial will be held on April 18 at 6 p.m. in the Louise E. Addicott and Yatish J. Joshi Performance Hall.