BANGOR, Maine — The man who led the University of Maine for eight years during the late 1950s and early 1960s has died, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the president of George Washington University.
Lloyd Hartman Elliott served as UMaine’s president from July 1958 through September 1965 before he became president of George Washington University. He was 94 when he died Tuesday at George Washington University Hospital.
While at UMaine, Elliott was known for his commitment to growing student enrollment on campus and attracting state funding for faculty and staff, according to a brief biography on the Orono campus website.
Six new classroom buildings, six dormitories, two dining halls and the Hauck Auditorium were completed during his presidency. In addition, closed-circuit television was launched to expand statewide access to classes and an outdated apartment complex was razed and replaced by modern housing units at University Park.
Elliott was instrumental in bringing President John F. Kennedy to the university in October 1963 — 33 days before his assassination in Dallas — to receive an honorary degree.
“Lloyd Elliott was a nationally recognized educational leader,” University of Maine President Paul W. Ferguson said Wednesday in a statement. “At UMaine, he championed educational access, the humanities and science, improved the campus infrastructure, and understood the importance of UMaine research to help the state. Lloyd Elliott continued the development of UMaine on a firm path to becoming the flagship university of Maine that it is today. We have deep gratitude for his service, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
On Wednesday, some of Elliott’s UMaine contemporaries remembered him as an educational leader whose legacy includes the construction of several key campus buildings.
“One of the things that I know he did correctly was at the beginning of every fall semester, he would invite the faculty to breakfast at Wells Commons,” John Battick, UMaine professor emeritus of history said.
During those breakfast sessions, Elliott would deliver a sort of “state of the university” address and discuss academic concerns, said Battick, who came to UMaine in 1964 as an assistant history professor and helped establish a program in military-naval-maritime studies.
“He was that kind of fellow. He really made contact with the faculty,” he said.
“He was a great one for building, and a lot of the structures that we take for granted now were completed during his tenure,” Battick added.
Funding for education was easier to come by then, largely due to the National Defense Education Act signed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958, Battick noted. The law came about “because there was a fear that we were falling being the Russians in the Space Race and the Cold War,” Battick said.
The law provided funding for U.S. education institutions at all levels, including colleges and universities.
“During that period, lots of opportunities were created and universities expanded,” Battick said.
Battick described Elliott’s leadership style as “frank, open. He communicated in a way that can’t be said of all university presidents. I don’t know of anybody who didn’t respect him.”
“He was very popular,” agreed Richard C. Hill, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at UMaine and director emeritus for the Department of Industrial Cooperation.
“He was a very good president for the university. He had a light touch,” Hill said. “The faculty would say the the role of the president is pretty circumspect.”
Hill pointed out that Elliott served UMaine during a different era. He said Elliott frequently sat in on — but rarely spoke at — meetings of the faculty council during which professors “anguished over the tribulations of the scholarly community.”
During one such session, a faculty colleague was grousing about having to walk into classrooms in which students had been smoking, Hill recalled.
The professor “was very upset that there were no rule prohibiting smoking in classrooms” and asked Elliott to step in. Elliott, however, said he could not enforce a smoking ban without having a precise definition of a classroom. “Is it a roomful of students or two students meeting in an office with their professor?” Hill said, summarizing Elliott’s concern.
The Orono campus, Hill said, since has seen “some interesting cultural changes.”
After leaving UMaine in 1965, Elliott became president of George Washington University, which he led until his retirement in 1988.
While at the helm of the university in Washington, D.C., Elliott was instrumental in transforming it from a commuter school into a selective residential university, George Washington President Steven Knapp wrote Tuesday.
Also during Elliott’s tenure, George Washington University’s endowment grew from $8 million to more than $200 million and three new libraries, a gymnasium, medical and law school buildings and a student center were constructed.
A native of West Virginia, Elliott worked as a schoolteacher in that state’s coal country before serving in the Navy during World War II.
He used the G.I. Bill to pay for a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Colorado.
After retiring from George Washington University, Elliott became president of the National Geographic Society’s education foundation.
Elliott is survived by a son and a daughter. Information about funeral arrangements and memorial plans was not immediately available.
The Washington Post contributed to this report.