February 06, 2006

SIU President James E. Walker dies

by Sue Davis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University President James E. Walker died Sunday (Feb. 5) at his home in rural Carbondale after losing his battle with cancer. He was 64. Funeral arrangements are pending.

" It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of President Walker. Speaking for the entire Southern Illinois University community our heartfelt sympathies go out to Gwenn and her daughters. Dr. Walker was recognized as one of the most accomplished and dedicated higher education professionals in this country,“ said Glenn Poshard, SIU’s president. “He was a caring and decent man who accomplished a great deal for Southern Illinois University through his positive outlook on life and his wonderful sense of humor. As I have often said, President Walker will be remembered most as a man who provided stable and experienced leadership to the SIU system at a critical point in our history. He made Southern Illinois University a better place, and he will be truly missed."

President Walker had been on medical leave from the University since Sept. 13, 2005.

Walker came to SIU in July 2000 from Middle Tennessee State University where he had served as president for 10 years. Prior to becoming president at Middle Tennessee State, Walker was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Northern Colorado.

Representatives from SIU’s Office of the President were in brief contact with the Walker family early today. They will continue to offer support as arrangements are made.

Walker was the fifth president of Southern Illinois University System, a multi-campus university comprising two institutions, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a School of Medicine in Springfield, and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville with a Dental School at Alton.

Walker, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University's doctoral program in education (1972), earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Alabama State University (1963) and a Master’s in Special Education from Atlanta University (1967). He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alabama in Higher Education Administration and was also a graduate of the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management.