Leon H. Atchison, the longest-serving member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors, died on Monday, June 22, after a lengthy illness. He was 87.
Committed to the university, its urban mission and its students, Atchison served on the board for 32 years, completing his last term in 2002.
The board recognized this service in 2008, when it renamed South University Hall - one of WSU's two undergraduate residence halls - Leon H. Atchison Hall.
"The death of Leon Atchison is a major loss of a valued friend and treasured colleague. His commitment and service to this university is truly great considering his more than 32 years of service on the Board of Governors during major growth years," said Gary Pollard, Board of Governors chair. "Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife Brandy, and his children. He will be deeply missed."
Through Atchison's vision, the university established the College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs and the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts. He is also credited with the reorganization of the College of Liberal Arts, the establishment of the College of Science, the creation of numerous university programs, changes in curriculum, strengthening of the student body and the transformation of the university's main campus, which saw more than $1 billion in capital improvements during his tenure.
For more than two decades, Atchison represented Wayne State University as a member of the Detroit Receiving Hospital Board of Trustees and served for a substantial period of this time as the boardï¿½s chair. Under his leadership, Detroit Receiving Hospital was merged into the Detroit Medical Center.
Atchison received a bachelor's in education and master's in public administration from Michigan State University.
"Leon was an exceptional member of the Wayne State Board and a wonderful person," said Diane Dunaskiss, Board of Governors member. "He was committed to the mission of the university. His wisdom and experience were valued by his colleagues and the university community. Leon's passing is a tremendous loss and he will be greatly missed, but he will be remembered with great fondness and appreciation."
Atchison is survived by his wife, Brandy, and three children.
Services will be held Tuesday, June 30, with the family hour starting at 10 a.m. and funeral at 11 a.m. at Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 2080 W. Grand Boulevard in Detroit.
Contributions in his memory can be made to the Leon Atchison Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Wayne State University Fund Office, 5475 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202.