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In Memoriam: Former UNLV President Goodall

The fourth president oversaw the construction of several major buildings, established the UNLV Foundation, and championed the installation of the Flashlight.
People  |  Sep 5, 2013  |  By Diane Russell
Editor's Note: 

UNLV will honor the memory of its fourth president, Leonard “Pat” Goodall, Sept. 9 with the unveiling of a bust in Goodall’s likeness. Members of both the campus and the Southern Nevada communities are invited to attend the event, which is set for 10-11 a.m. in the Richard Tam Alumni Center. The bust will become part of Pioneer Wall.

The following story was written at the time of Goodall’s death in July 2012.


Dr. Leonard E. "Pat" Goodall, who served from 1979 to 1984 as the university's fourth president, died July 2 with Lois, his wife of nearly 53 years, at his side. He was 75.

Dr. Goodall, who had inoperable brain cancer, had declined additional medical treatment in recent months, choosing to enter an in-home hospice program.

UNLV President Neal Smatresk said, "Pat Goodall was known for his monumental contributions to UNLV during a critical phase of our growth, but more importantly as a kind and gentle man who always had a good word for everyone. He was a friend to all of us, and has never stopped contributing to his discipline and the university.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to Lois and his family. He will be remembered and missed by all of us."

Karen Crane, one of the Goodalls' daughters, said her father "loved his years as president and loved being part of the wonderful Las Vegas community. He also greatly valued all of his friends that he developed over the years."

In 1984, Dr. Goodall returned to the faculty at UNLV, serving as a professor of management and public administration until his retirement in 2000.

Presidential Legacy

During his presidency the physical campus changed considerably. Both Frank and Estella Beam Hall and the Alta Ham Fine Arts building with its Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery were built during his tenure. The 18,000-seat Thomas & Mack Center was completed while he was president.

In 1981, the Flashlight sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen was installed on the Performing Arts Center plaza. Dr. Goodall saw the sometimes-controversial sculpture as something positive for UNLV.

"Personally, I happen to like the piece, and I find it quite aesthetically pleasing," he said the following year in his annual State of the University address. He added, however, that whether he or anyone else liked it was not the question.

"The important fact is that it is there. It puts this campus and this community on the art world's map," he said. "It will be a focus of attention, discussion, and debate, and that is precisely what makes it such an appropriate part of an academic community."

Dr. Goodall established the UNLV Foundation, providing a centralized, efficient organization to manage gifts and to begin the systematic fundraising efforts that have proven so vital to UNLV in recent years.

His presidency also saw the creation of:

  • New graduate programs in geoscience, hotel administration, and accounting.
  • Office of international programs, including the establishment of overseas educational programs.
  • The Barrick Lecture Series.

Many of the issues he faced as UNLV president mirror those of recent years, including the vital role UNLV plays in helping the state diversify its economy and managing the university during an economic downturn.

He arrived at UNLV in 1979 from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where he had served as that institution's first chancellor. He had previously served at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle and at Arizona State University.

Opportunities in Higher Education

In a 2006 interview for UNLV's Oral History Research Center, Dr. Goodall recalled arriving for his ASU job in the summer of 1962, having never before been west of the Rocky Mountains. He, his wife, and toddler daughter drove into Tempe in August and spotted a bank thermometer showing 117 degrees. "We thought, 'You know, we have come to the end of the world. What have we done?'"

Asked about his first impression of UNLV, he said in the oral history, "I thought that clearly you didn't have to have a lot of ability to predict the future to know that this place was going to grow. The valley was going to grow and the university was going to grow."

He mentioned that he was concerned about the rising cost of earning a college degree. From World War II and through the 1970s, higher education at a public university was an affordable steppingstone to the middle class for most Americans, he said.

"Lower tuitions really were one of the instruments of democracy ... That has kind of slipped away as tuition has gone up and up."

Investment Author

Born March 16, 1937, in Warrensburg, Mo., he was nicknamed Pat because he was born the day before St. Patrick's Day. He earned a bachelor's degree in social science from Central Missouri State College, a master of arts degree in political science from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate in political science from the University of Illinois.

This year he published his last book, An Investor's Memoir: Lessons Learned From Sixty Years in the Stock Market Without One Day on the Sidelines. He had made his first investment in the stock market in 1952 when he was 15.

Crane said he wrote the book while battling cancer. "It was his opportunity to share his 60 years of investing, information from his numerous books, information from his monthly newsletter, and information from all the years of speaking."

Among his other books are Government and Politics of Nevada: Conservatism in an Open Society, co-written with Donald Driggs, and The World Wide Investor, co-written with former UNLV professor William Corney.

Dr. Goodall served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1958 to 1964.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Karen Crane, he is survived by daughter Karla Powers; son Gregory; and nine grandchildren. His wife earned a master's degree in education at UNLV, while their son received a hotel management degree here.

Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 5 at Palm Mortuary, 1600 S. Jones Boulevard in Las Vegas. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. July 6 at First Presbyterian Church, 1515 W. Charleston Boulevard.

A campus memorial service will be held in the fall.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that remembrances be made to UNLV. Gifts can be made through the UNLV Foundation:

  • Make a gift through the UNLV Foundation website.
  • Send a check to UNLV Foundation, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy., Box 451006, Las Vegas, NV 89154-1006. Make the check payable to the UNLV Foundation with "Pat Goodall Memorial" in the memo line.