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Obituary: Former University President Durwood Long Dies

The third president of then-Sangamon State University, who helped found what is now the Center for State Policy and Leadership in 1989, died Saturday, May 31. 

Barbara Ferrara, associate director of the center at what is now the University of Illinois at Springfield, says Durward Long's vision for the school helped elevate its standards. 

When it was founded, the center was known as the Institute for Public Affairs, a coordination of the campus radio station, the television and electronic media operation and Illinois Issues magazine as well as research and survey units studying public policy. 

Long's work in establishing the institute made UIS the envy of public policy groups across the country because of the synergy of the assembled programs. 

“His leadership in public affairs helped our service to state government through citizen education and outreach,” Ferrara says. 

Under Long's watch, the university's enrollment increased to more than 4,000 students for the first time. Academic standards were raised. 

Long served as president of the university from 1984 to 1990. He then became vice chancellor for strategic planning before being named professor emeritus of economic history and African-American history. 

He came to the university from the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and previously served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Center System. He was appointed by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to oversee higher education for California. He also served as vice president at both the University of Wyoming and the University of Hawaii. 

“On behalf of the entire university, I would like to express condolences to Dr. Long's family,” UIS Chancellor Richard Ringeisen said in a news release. “He was an important part of this university's history and its growth and development.”   

In his personal life, Long played semi-professional baseball, enjoyed skiing and was an accomplished amateur tennis player. He later enjoyed spectator sports, fishing and boating. 

He received his bachelor's degree from Troy State University in Alabama, master's degree from Auburn University in Alabama and his doctorate from the University of Florida in Gainesville. 

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Estrella Nina Long; sons, Melvin Durward III and Carl Patrick; daughter, Elena Colleen Martin; grandson, Samuel Patrick; and siblings,    Huey and Joyce Dukes. 

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 7, at Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, 500 S.W. Ninth St., Lake Butler, FL. Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, June 6, at Archer Funeral Home, 55 N. Lake Ave. in Lake Butler. 

Illinois Issues, June 2008

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