Jim McLeod’s ‘special way’ to be remembered with special place on South 40

McLeod's Way to be dedicated Sept. 15 in memory of inspirational leader

A rendering of McLeod’s Way, which will be completed in early September and will be located on the South 40 just south of the Forsyth Underpass. (Credit: Courtesy image)

The legacy of Jim McLeod, whose goal was for the university to know every student “by name and by story,” will be honored by Washington University in St. Louis with the dedication of McLeod’s Way Saturday, Sept. 15.

James E. “Jim” McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, died Sept. 6, 2011, after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 67.

McLeod’s Way is a new landscaped gathering place that will be located along the path from the newly rebuilt Forsyth Underpass to the Clock Tower on the South 40. It will be completed in early September.


“Dean McLeod, as he was affectionately known, was the chief architect for Washington University’s undergraduate experience — arguably the best in the country today,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “He inspired countless students, so it is only fitting that we honor his memory with this special place where generations of future students will gather.”

A dedication of McLeod’s Way will begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 15 in Graham Chapel. Afterward, those attending will be invited to process to McLeod’s Way, where refreshments will be served.

McLeod’s Way will feature wooden circular benches shaded by Willow Oak and Crape Myrtle, creating an inviting gathering place for students. A plaque at the site will read: “Caring and sensitive, quiet and dedicated, trusted friend and advisor, Jim McLeod was a wise, creative, and visionary leader whose special way, McLeod’s Way, continues to inspire all who join the Washington University community.”

Granite and limestone walls sheltering the benches in McLeod’s Way will feature many of McLeod’s favorite sayings, including “Every student known by name and by story,” “Learning is not a spectator sport” and “Words matter” — imparting to current and future students McLeod’s vision for the university.

“Jim’s words — words that defined his philosophy for how people should learn and treat one another — adorn McLeod’s Way, and will remind us of Jim’s enduring legacy in our community,” Wrighton says.

The walls of McLeod’s Way will feature many of Jim McLeod’s noted sayings and philosophies. (Credit: Courtesy image)

McLeod, as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences — WUSTL’s largest undergraduate school with 4,000 students — and as vice chancellor for students, helped build a warm, supportive and challenging student culture that is unique in the nation.

Recognized as one of the university’s most effective leaders, McLeod spearheaded many successful undergraduate efforts, including developing a residential college approach to dormitory living; strengthening the undergraduate advising system; establishing and building the John B. Ervin Scholars Program; and helping initiate and shape the expanded study-abroad program.

He joined the WUSTL faculty in 1974 as an assistant professor of German in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures in Arts & Sciences.

He held a number of administrative positions, including assistant dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences from 1974-77; assistant to then Chancellor William H. Danforth from 1977-1987; and director of the African and Afro-American Studies Program (now known as African and African-American Studies) in Arts & Sciences from 1987 until 1992, when he was appointed dean.

WUSTL established a scholarship fund in 2010 to honor McLeod for 35 years of invaluable contributions, inspiration, devotion and guidance to the university community.

For a video of the October 2011 memorial service at WUSTL honoring McLeod, visit news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/22862.aspx.