Massey to deliver the inaugural James E. McLeod Memorial Lecture in Higher Education

Annual lecture will serve to praise the liberal arts and give tribute to a man who embodied the philosophy

Educator, administrator and physicist Walter Massey, PhD, is delivering the inaugural James E. McLeod Memorial Lecture in Higher Education Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Washington University in St. Louis. His lecture, titled “Liberal Arts: The Higgs Boson of Higher Education,” will begin at 4 p.m. in Graham Chapel. It is free and open to the public.


Massey, president of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2010, credits his college experience with setting him on the path to distinguished careers in academia, science, research, education and business.

His appreciation for the liberal arts mirrors that of the late Jim McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, who died in September 2011.

Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Massey graduated from Morehouse College in 1958 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from Washington University in 1966. Massey began his teaching career as an assistant professor of physics at the University of Illinois.

Massey went on to serve as vice president for research and professor of physics at the University of Chicago, as director of the Argonne National Laboratory, as dean of the college and professor of physics at Brown University and as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs of the University of California system.

In 1995, he became the ninth president of his alma mater, Morehouse College, serving until 2007.

He also is former director of the National Science Foundation, a position to which he was appointed by former President George W. Bush. The foundation is the government’s lead agency for support of research and education in mathematics, science and engineering.

Throughout his life, Massey has championed the advancement of minority student education. He developed and directed the Inner City Teachers of Science Program while at Brown University, and he helped found the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Massey also has made his mark in the corporate sector as the former chairman of the board of Bank of America. In addition, he is a trustee of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Council of Foreign Relations.

For information about this lecture and other Assembly Series programs, visit or call 314-935-4620.