Richard Hill, Lakeland College's 12th president, passed away Wednesday night in Florida. He was 87.
Services will be held in Florida and Wisconsin. Burial will take place at Immanuel United Church of Christ on June 2 in a private ceremony. A public celebration of Hill's life will be held at the Ley Chapel on the Lakeland campus at 1:30 p.m. on June 2.
Hill led Lakeland from 1977-89, a time that saw significant growth both physically and financially. The Todd Wehr Physical Education Center (1984), Bradley Fine Arts Building (1987) and the Verhulst Center for the Arts (1988) were all constructed during his tenure, and the library received a significant addition and was named for former trustee John Esch.
During his Lakeland presidency, Hill served on several local boards, and also was president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
After leaving the presidency, Hill served as Lakeland's only chancellor from 1989-91 during the early years of the presidency of David Black. Hill was named president emeritus by the board of trustees upon his retirement, and in 1994, the trustees named two new apartments for Hill and former Lakeland President John Morland.
Hill received honorary doctorates from Lakeland and Carroll College (his undergraduate alma mater), and an endowed Lakeland scholarship in his name was created at the time of his retirement.
After leaving Wisconsin, Hill and his wife, Marilyn, often hosted Lakeland visitors at their home in Florida and were regular attendees at Lakeland’s annual Florida alumni gathering.
The early years of Hill's presidency saw the establishment of the Lifelong Learning Program, the state's first degree-completion program for working adults. Today, the Evening, Weekend and Online program has more than 2,000 students. Another highlight of the Hill presidency came in 1978, when the science center, which was dedicated in 1968, was named for former trustee Lucius Chase.
The Bradley was dedicated on Oct. 18, 1987, on a night that included a performance by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Bradley Gallery's first exhibit. The campaign to build the Bradley Building included a $500,000 gift from Lloyd and Jane Pettit, at the time one of the largest contributions in Lakeland's history.
The completion of the Wehr Center ushered in the modern era of Lakeland athletics, giving the Muskies a state-of-the-art facility which was expanded in 2005, and the completion of both the Verhulst Center and the Bradley signaled Lakeland's strong commitment to the fine arts.
Prior to serving at Lakeland, Hill was president of Huron College in South Dakota and assistant to the president and other roles at Carroll College. He received a master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, was an ordained Presbyterian minister and served churches in Wisconsin and Illinois.