Few have made as remarkable an impact on higher education as Ronald Carrier, East Tennessee State ’55. A 1973 SigEp Citation recipient, Carrier began his career as an economics professor before rising to become the youngest college president in the country at the age of 38. When he arrived in Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 1971, the 4,000-student Madison College was coed but still widely perceived as a women’s-only school. By the time Carrier retired in 1998, the school — renamed James Madison University — boasted more than 14,000 students, a budding reputation as one of the best universities in the South, and an NCAA Division I athletic program.
During his 27 years as president, Carrier added new academic programs for undergraduates, as well as new graduate programs. To accommodate this growth, he added 100 acres to the campus and oversaw construction of 40 new buildings.
He was well regarded for his ability to talk to anyone, from students, who called him “Uncle Ron,” to the state lawmakers he often charmed and cajoled into helping fund the university’s expansion initiatives.
Carrier is survived by his wife, Edith; daughters, Linda and Jennine; and five grandchildren.