June 12, 2008

Former SMU President Ad Interim William B. Stallcup Jr.
Led University During A Critical Time

William B. Stallcup Jr.
(click image for larger version)

William B. Stallcup Jr., who rose through the academic ranks to serve as president ad interim of Southern Methodist University during one of the most crucial periods in its history, died Saturday, June 7, at his home in Ranchos de Taos, N.M., following a long illness. He was 87.

A biology professor who never intended to be an administrator, Stallcup served in various administrative positions for half of his four decades at SMU. The most critical of these was when he was named SMU's president ad interim in 1986 following the sudden retirement of SMU President L. Donald Shields and SMU’s sanctions for NCAA football rules violations. Stallcup provided leadership and integrity during this period by presiding over sweeping reforms in SMU's athletics programs and governance structure, and helping restore public confidence in the University.

"A dedicated teacher, Bill Stallcup repeatedly answered the call to serve as an administrator in times of special need,"; said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "He provided leadership most importantly as interim president during a troubled time. SMU's transition to brighter days would not have been possible without his leadership, integrity and dedication. He also was instrumental in helping to develop SMU-in-Taos as a unique educational resource. In the history of SMU, he stands out as an exemplary steward of positive change."

Born in Dallas, Stallcup was an Eagle Scout, graduated from Forest Avenue High School in 1937 and received scholarships to SMU, working summers as a laborer for the Dallas Railway and Terminal Company. He originally planned to attend medical school, but a weekend job testing lake water in East Texas to determine the cause of a dwindling fish supply kindled his love of the outdoors and the challenges of applying biology to ecological problems. He graduated from SMU with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1941 and became an aquatic biologist and chemist for the City of Dallas. He married Marcile (Pat) Patterson in 1942, also a biology student at SMU, who provided unfailing care and support for 65 years.

When World War II started, Stallcup joined the U.S. Air Force. He was a waist gunner and radar counter-measure specialist, stationed with the Royal Air Force in England and flying in B-24 bombers and P-38 Lightnings over western Europe. A first lieutenant, he received the Air Medal and several oak leaf clusters. Following the war, he was a biology instructor at SMU until the start of the Korean War in 1950, when he was recalled to active duty. Instead of placing him again in combat, however, the Air Force decided his services were needed teaching pre-med students at the University of Kansas. While there, he earned his Ph.D. in zoology. He returned to SMU as an assistant professor of biology in 1954 and was promoted to full professor in 1962.

In the years that followed his return to SMU, Stallcup served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, associate dean of faculty in Dedman College, associate provost twice, special assistant to the president, acting provost twice and interim president from November 1986 to August 1987. He also taught summer classes at SMU-in-Taos for more than 20 years and was a civic leader in the Taos community, serving as Chairman of the Board of the Ghost Ranch Living Museum and the Taos Institute of Art, and overseeing development of a new facility for the Taos Humane Society.

Stallcup wanted to retire from the University as a teacher, so after serving as president ad interim, he returned to teaching until his retirement in 1989. Still, SMU asked him to serve in one more capacity. As he and his wife, Pat, planned to move to Taos, he agreed to serve as resident director of SMU-in-Taos in New Mexico from 1990-1992.

“Bill Stallcup's passing is monumental in terms of his contribution to SMU,” said Marshall Terry, professor emeritus of English and an authority on the history of the University. “He was a person of intelligence, integrity and quiet courage. His interim presidency during the trials of the football scandal made all the difference, because the faculty, staff and students believed in him as a person and leader. He was a gentle man who represented the best in SMU.”

Echoing Terry’s sentiments was James E. Brooks, provost emeritus of SMU, who named Stallcup as associate dean when Brooks was dean of Dedman College, and as associate provost when Brooks was provost. He said, “Bill Stallcup was a quiet, unassuming person who contributed to SMU in many ways over many years. It is for his very effective handling of the presidency and the University in the time of crisis that he will most be remembered – but that is only a partial measure of the ways in which SMU is in Bill Stallcup’s debt!”

While at SMU, Stallcup received numerous research grants, professional honors and awards for service. In appreciation of his service as president ad interim, the SMU Board of Trustees established the Dr. William B. Stallcup Jr. Scholarship in Biology in 1987. He was honored in 2002 as a recipient of SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Most recently, the SMU Board of Trustees honored Stallcup with the Trustee Distinguished Service Award at its meeting May 9, 2008. In its resolution honoring him, the board commended “the strength of his integrity and earned respect. . . His conduct of the University's affairs . . . restored the confidence of the faculty, students, staff and alumni in the administrative leadership of the University.”

Stallcup had been a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi scientific research society, American Society of Mammalogists, American Ornithologists' Union and Texas Ornithological Society, and was a past president of the North Texas Biological Society. He also had been listed in American Men of Science.

Stallcup is survived by his wife, Marcile “Pat” Patterson Stallcup of Ranchos de Taos; a brother, Robert A. Stallcup of Houston; three daughters, Lisë Stallcup Engel of Dallas, Cathy Melanie Stallcup of Albuquerque, and Jerre Ann Stallcup of Encinitas, Calif.; two sons, Michael R. Stallcup of Los Angeles and William B. Stallcup III of Encinitas, Calif.; and six grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for July 20 at SMU-in-Taos.

Memorial contributions may be made to The Dr. William B. Stallcup Jr. Scholarship Endowment for Undergraduate Biology Students at Southern Methodist University. Mail to: Southern Methodist University; Attention: Gift Administration – Scholarship; P.O. Box 750402; Dallas, TX 75275-0402. For additional information contact Kate Moreland at 214-768-4745 or by e-mail at

Related Links:
 • The Dallas Morning News: William B. Stallcup Jr. - Biology professor
     led SMU through scandal's aftermath
 • The Houston Chronicle: Former interim SMU president dies

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