Wash. U. to honor the late James McLeod one year after his passing
A series of memorial events is slated to take place on campus in the coming weeks to commemorate one year since former Dean of Arts & Sciences James E. McLeod passed away. On Sept. 6 of last year, at the age of 67, McLeod passed away due to complications from lung cancer that he had been fighting for two years.
In addition to his administrative role, McLeod founded and directed the Ervin Scholars Program, a scholarship fund that provides full or partial tuition scholarships for selected students.
“He was like a father away from home to most of us,” senior Ervin scholar Tej Azad said. “We really wanted to do something on this one-year mark to honor his legacy and the impact he’s had on Wash. U.”
A candlelight vigil will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 starting at 9 p.m. in Brookings Quadrangle. At 9:15 p.m., the procession will make its way toward the bench by Bear’s Den dedicated to McLeod. From there, a series of musical performances and speeches are set to take place, with an open mic for any students wishing to share their sentiments.
“The vigil will be a great time for students to reflect on what Dean McLeod contributed to campus and for them to share some of the memories they have,” senior and Ervin scholar Justin Nicks said. “It’ll also be an opportunity for freshmen and sophomores who never got the chance to interact with Dean McLeod to understand the legacy he left behind.”
The vigil will conclude with a closing speech from Vice Chancellor for Students Sharon Stahl.
“I worked with [McLeod] for 20 years, and he was a wonderful colleague and friend,” Stahl said. “I miss him a great deal. He had such vision, such charisma, and he left such an impact. He’s had such a profound influence on this community, and he’ll always be a part of it.”
Ervin Scholars expressed their hopes to make the memorial service for McLeod an annual event.
“It’s all about keeping his name and his contributions to the campus alive and in the minds of students,” Nicks said. “We’re working with some younger students to try to make sure this tradition is repeated again next year so we can make this event a lasting memorial for Dean McLeod.”Ervin Scholars have also been working the week of Sept. 3 to sell JEM cookies, named with McLeod’s initials, in the DUC and Bear’s Den for fundraising efforts. All funds raised from these sales will be donated to Relay for Life in McLeod’s name.
“He really loved Relay for Life and was a big part of that initiative,” Nicks said. “We wanted to give back to an organization that he loved in his honor.”
In addition to the vigil, more events in McLeod’s honor are planned for the weekend of September 15. The newly renovated pathway between the Underpass and the Clocktower on the South 40, named “McLeod’s Way,” will be dedicated at a ceremony at 11 a.m. in Graham Chapel on Saturday, Sept. 15. After the ceremony, guests will walk together to the Clocktower for refreshments and fellowship.
On Sept. 16 from 1-2 p.m., a dedication of a bench in McLeod’s name will take place in Brookings Quad, put on by the Black Alumni Council.
“He was a person who touched and shaped a lot of our lives, and really championed students’ abilities to do things on campus,” Azad said. “He took initiative to try to get to know students by name and story and just had such a positive outlook on everything. We really wanted to do what we could for this anniversary to make sure his name and legacy stayed alive.”