St. Mary’s College of Maryland mourns the passing of former College President Dr. James Renwick Jackson. Jackson served as president of the College from 1969 – 1982. He died Friday, July 13 in Queens, NY from complications of pneumonia, surrounded by a circle of loved ones.
Jackson was St. Mary’s first male president, taking office on July 1, 1969. He brought with him a vision of a “public Swarthmore,” where the best of small, private, liberal arts education could be modeled in a public college. He led the transformation of the college from a two-year to a four-year curriculum, overseeing the first 4-year graduation in 1971 and the first accreditation by the Maryland Higher Education Commission in 1974.
“When I met President Jackson last year, his love for the college was undiminished, and inspiring,” said Dr. Joseph Urgo, president of St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “We will miss him, although his spirit will forever animate the core of our mission.”
Jackson’s legacy to the college includes commissioning a bronze medallion of the Ark and the Dove which became the college logo. He also launched the Mulberry Tree Papers in 1972, which has run continuously as the college/alumni magazine since that time. In addition, he held, in 1974, what would become the college’s annual Governor’s Cup Yacht Race.
During his 13-year service as president, the campus facilities greatly expanded: in 1970, Prince George and Caroline residence halls opened and the Cobb House was purchased for the president’s residence. In 1974, the Chapman residence (now the Alumni Office) was acquired. In 1980, Montgomery Hall Fine Arts Center opened.
Dr. Jackson was born in Philadelphia, PA on October 10, 1928. He worked as Dean of Students and Professor of History at York College; one of many positions he held in higher education before coming to St. Mary’s. A memorial service will be held at the Church of the Covenant, 301 East 42nd Street in New York at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 22.