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Leslie F. Malpass, Western Illinois University president, 1974-1987 (WIU/VPC photo)

WIU Mourns Passing of Former President Leslie F. Malpass

March 17, 2011


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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University and greater Macomb communities mourn the death of WIU's seventh president, Leslie F. Malpass, 88, who passed away in his sleep overnight (March 16-17) at his home in Durham, NC.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 19 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham.

During his 13-year presidency (1974-1987), Malpass emphasized faculty research, encouraged the publication of journals, sought private funding and promoted greater service to the region. He also supervised construction of the architecturally notable University Library, which was built to house the growing collection of books and to provide more work space for students and faculty. The University Library opened
Sept. 5, 1977.

On March 2, 2001, the WIU Board of Trustees renamed the library in his honor, and on Oct. 19, 2001, the building was re-dedicated as the Leslie F. Malpass Library.

In President Malpass' tenure, the University academic calendar changed from quarters to semesters, and the number of international students attending WIU increased to more than 800. Malpass helped establish a microwave television system on campus, linking several institutions across the state to share faculty expertise and courses and bring public television to the area. His early commitment to education outreach through television helped advance Western's leadership role in technology and distance learning. The Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA), which is a nationally recognized research and policy agency for rural economic issues, also was created at Western through executive order of the governor.

Malpass was active in the community, assisting in the creation of the Macomb Area Industrial Development Corporation – now Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation (MAEDCO) – and working with the city of Macomb and McDonough District Hospital to foster a public–private economic partnership for the community. He was active in the Salvation Army and brought the 1985 Salvation Army International Youth Congress of several thousand young people to Western's campus for a week of activities and events.

In 2001 he and his wife Winona, who helped start the hospice program at McDonough District Hospital, served as Grand Marshals of Western's 78th Homecoming Parade.

Malpass received his B.A. (1947), M.A. (1949) and Ph.D. (1952) in psychology from Syracuse University. Before his presidency at Western Illinois, Malpass taught at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, was professor and chairman of behavioral sciences at the University of South Florida (Tampa) and served as dean of arts and sciences and then vice president for academic affairs at Virginia Tech.

He wrote numerous books, monographs and refereed journal articles. Malpass also served as a consultant to such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, Peace Corps, Social Security Administration and the American Library Association.

He is survived by Winona, whom he met when they both were in the U.S. Army in World War II; four children – Susan Poulton, Peter, Jennifer and Mike Malpass; and five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Salvation Army.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations