Former UTC Chancellor Bill Stacy Dies At 85

  • Saturday, January 6, 2024
Dr. Bill Stacy
Dr. Bill Stacy

Dr. Bill W. Stacy, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga chancellor from 1997 to 2004, died Thursday in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Dr. Stacy was 85.

Dr. Stacy was often described as a visionary and a builder, UTC Chancellor Steven R. Angle said.

“After I first arrived at UTC in 2013, Dr. Stacy took me under his wing and was instrumental in introducing me to key members of the community,” Angle said. “He was easy to get along with, always entertaining, and committed to bettering the lives of those around him.

“I had the pleasure of introducing him as the featured speaker for the fall 2017 commencement ceremonies. It allowed me to extol his virtues while talking about his incredible impact on this campus; he was a truly transformational leader.”

Dr. Stacy worked hand-in-hand with Scotty Probasco and the UC Foundation on building South Campus housing, changing UTC from a commuter campus to a residential institution; during his time as chancellor, over 1,600 beds were built. Just as significantly, he grew the stature of the University academically by establishing UTC’s first Ph.D. programs.

Kim White, Vice Chancellor of Advancement, lauded Dr. Stacy’s role in involving the Foundation in student housing.

“He was a visionary and very forward-thinking. He thought big and backed it up, changing both our campus and the Foundation with his big vision for what UTC could—and has—become,” White said. “He was a fantastic fund- and friend-raiser for our campus, helping close out some major gifts, and he stayed active both on the Foundation board and as an ambassador for UTC after retiring as chancellor.”

Dr. Stacy was born and raised in Bristol, Tennessee, becoming the first person in his family to attend college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication at Southeast Missouri State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in the same discipline from Southern Illinois University.

En route to earning his Ph.D., his dissertation centered on Harry S. Truman’s campaign speaking during the 1948 election. Through “a friend of a friend of a friend,” as Dr. Stacy described it in a 2018 interview, he sat down face-to-face with Truman—the 33rd President of the United States.

“How else can you say it except, ‘You just got blessed. You got lucky,’” Dr. Stacy said. “When I got ready for the paper portion of the Ph.D., I had a chance over a couple of years to interview him. Well, it was a great thing for me to be around the President of the United States to get to speak to him.

“When I think about that opportunity … this fellow from Bristol, Tennessee, interviewing President Truman. There is something that’s blessed about that, right?”

Dr. Stacy’s road to UTC began at his alma mater, Southeast Missouri State, where he spent 10 years as president. He then had a rare opportunity in higher education, helping launch a new university from scratch as the founding president at California State University San Marcos.

Dr. Stacy arrived in San Marcos in 1989 to preside over the building of the nation’s first state university since the University of Texas-San Antonio was established in the mid-1960s. Among his many duties, he was responsible for the construction of the campus’ physical plant, building a curriculum, assembling a faculty and recruiting a student body.

“I must admit that anybody who would have taken on that job needed to have his head examined just a little bit,” Dr. Stacy joked in the 2018 interview. “But it was a splendid thing to go to San Marcos. It was a school that the public demanded and built; there were a lot of people fighting for campus approval from the state legislature. Once I started there, I worked with a lot of people—and we had a chance to decide on the curriculum, to make sure that we were teaching what we wanted to teach rather than picking up and carrying on the way it had been going on for 50 or 100 years.”

After eight years in California and accomplishing most of what he sought to do there, Dr. Stacy interviewed for the UTC chancellor position and moved to Chattanooga, where he would lead another university transformation.

Growing the campus—then a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday commuter college that virtually all students left for the weekend—was a top priority when Dr. Stacy took office. As he often said, he was struck by the constraints on growth that UTC’s urban setting faced, but he had the vision to expand across McCallie Avenue.

The expansion brought South Campus housing into existence. When Dr. Stacy took office, UTC enrollment was around 8,000 students, compared to nearly 12,000 today.

“We went in the direction of trying to make the campus vibrant and alive,” Dr. Stacy recalled in the 2018 interview. “We had some building to do and brought in the sense of vitality and gave this campus some life. It turned out wonderfully. It was really something to be in on the energizing and refurbishing of the campus.”

After his time as UTC chancellor, Dr. Stacy remained in Chattanooga and became the headmaster at Baylor School, a position he held until retiring in 2009.

“I’ve had one of those storybook lives,” he said in 2018. “All of my education was a result of public education. I’m the first kid in my family to go to college, and I’ve had such fabulous opportunities. I feel like this has been the best career ever. It’s been splendid, and the people have made it so.”

Dr. Stacy is survived by his wife of 34 years, Dr. Sue Stacy, and three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Ford and Sons Funeral Home in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with a livestream on Facebook. A private burial service will be held at the Fairdealing (Missouri) Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to United Way.

Current Chancellor Steve Angle said:

With deep sadness, I am informing the campus community of the passing of Dr. Bill W. Stacy, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga from 1997 to 2004. Dr. Stacy passed away in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Jan. 4 at the age of 85.

After I first arrived at UTC in 2013, Dr. Stacy took me under his wing and was instrumental in introducing me to key members of the community. He was easy to get along with, always entertaining, and committed to bettering the lives of those around him.

I had the pleasure of introducing him as the featured speaker for the fall 2017 commencement ceremonies. It allowed me to extol his virtues while talking about his incredible impact on this campus; he was a truly transformational leader.

Dr. Stacy worked hand-in-hand with Scotty Probasco and the UC Foundation on building South Campus housing, changing UTC from a commuter campus to a residential institution. During his time as chancellor, over 1,600 beds were built, changing the trajectory of this institution. Just as significantly, he grew the stature of the University academically by establishing UTC’s first Ph.D. programs.

Kim White, Vice Chancellor of Advancement, lauded Dr. Stacy’s role in involving the Foundation in student housing.

“He was a visionary and very forward-thinking. He thought big and backed it up, changing both our campus and the Foundation with his big vision for what UTC could—and has—become,” she said. “He was a fantastic fund- and friend-raiser for our campus, helping close out some major gifts, and he stayed active both on the Foundation board and as an ambassador for UTC after retiring as chancellor.”

Dr. Stacy was born and raised in Bristol, Tennessee, becoming the first person in his family to attend college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication at Southeast Missouri State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in the same discipline from Southern Illinois University.

Dr. Stacy’s road to UTC began at his alma mater, Southeast Missouri State, where he spent 10 years as president. He then had a rare opportunity in higher education, helping launch a new university from scratch as the founding president at California State University San Marcos.

Dr. Stacy arrived in San Marcos in 1989 to preside over building the nation’s first state university since the University of Texas-San Antonio was established in the mid-1960s. Among his many duties, he was responsible for the construction of the campus’ physical plant, building a curriculum, assembling a faculty and recruiting a student body.

After eight years in California and accomplishing most of what he sought to do there, Dr. Stacy accepted the UTC chancellor position and moved to Chattanooga.

Growing the campus, then a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday commuter college that virtually all students left for the weekend, was a top priority when Dr. Stacy took office. As he often said, he was struck by the constraints on growth that UTC’s urban setting faced, but he had the vision to expand across McCallie Avenue.

The expansion brought South Campus housing into existence. When Dr. Stacy took office, UTC enrollment was around 8,000 students, compared to nearly 12,000 today.

After his time as UTC chancellor, Dr. Stacy remained in Chattanooga and became the headmaster at Baylor School, a position he held until retiring in 2009.

Dr. Stacy is survived by his wife of 34 years, Dr. Sue Stacy, and three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Services will be held at 11 a.m. CST on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Ford and Sons Funeral Home in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, with a livestream on Facebook. A private burial service will be held at the Fairdealing (Missouri) Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to United Way.

Our condolences go out to the Stacy family on behalf of the entire UTC community.

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