Search committee named for Ervin Scholars program director

Jim McLeod served as director since the program’s inception in 1986 until his death in 2011

A search committee to identify candidates for the position of director of the prestigious John B. Ervin Scholars Program at Washington University in St. Louis has been appointed by Sharon Stahl, PhD, vice chancellor for students.


The late James E. McLeod, WUSTL’s beloved vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, was the only person to have served as director of the Ervin Program from its inception in 1986 until his death Sept. 6, 2011.

Referring to McLeod, Stahl said, “His are shoes that cannot be filled, because Jim was Jim and he wore many hats that served to give the Ervin Program a very solid foundation and its own extraordinary sense of community.”

Ralph S. Quatrano, PhD, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science and a strong supporter of the Ervin program, is chairing the search committee. Nicole R. Gore, assistant dean and academic coordinator in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Matt Holton, Ervin Class of ’95, serve as co-chairs.

St. Louisans Shirley and Charles Brown, the parents of Ervin alums Danny and Robbie Brown, are serving as consultants to the committee, and Gerald L. Early, PhD, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in Arts & Sciences, is senior faculty adviser to the chair.

The Ervin Scholars Program, which recognized its 25th anniversary at Washington University last year, awards scholarships to incoming first-year students who demonstrate exceptional intellectual and leadership achievements and who have shown a strong commitment to community service and bringing diverse people together. The scholarship is renewable for all four years of undergraduate study.

To help better understand the challenge of identifying an exceptional individual to assume leadership for the Ervin Program while sustaining McLeod’s legacy, Stahl recruited Wayne Fields, PhD, the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor in English in Arts & Sciences.

In a report, which was shared with the more than 500 current Ervin Scholars and Ervin alumni, Fields wrote that as “a visionary administrator,” McLeod “developed a model for a college that is deeply rooted in his experience with the Ervin Scholars.

“What has to be realized is that the Ervin Scholars Program is and has long been the cutting edge of an emergent vision for higher education at Washington University,” he wrote.

“It is no overstatement to say that much of the credit for Washington University’s rise to national prominence can be attributed to Dean McLeod and what he and the rest of the University learned from the Ervin Scholars Program,” Fields said.

“While those lessons are many, at their core is the importance of understanding a college as a community, and an awareness that among the profoundest of human longings is the desire to be connected to others, to find a wholeness that is only possible in relationships.”


Ervin scholars are actively involved in the WUSTL community and continue the legacy on campus of both the late John B. Ervin and McLeod.

Ervin, a nationally renowned black educator, scholar and author, was dean of the School of Continuing Education (now University College in Arts & Sciences) at WUSTL from 1968 to 1977.

Ervin, the first African American to hold a dean’s position at the university, committed his life to the education of all people. He knew the power of education in his life, and he saw it as a preparation for a full and more humane life, a life of leadership and service committed to the improvement of the human condition, an ethos instilled in each Ervin Scholar.

Other search committee members are:

• Sarah Birdsall, associate professor of art, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts;

• Adrienne Davis, JD, professor of law and vice provost;
• Early;
• Mark Edwards, head men’s basketball coach;
• Harvey Fields, PhD, assistant director, Cornerstone;
• Jen Smith, PhD, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences;
• Kirsten Smith, executive administrative assistant to the vice chancellor for students;
• Adina Sterling, assistant professor of strategy, Olin Business School;
• Nicole Gregory Tate, Ervin alum, Arts & Sciences, ’98;
• Maya Walton, junior in College of Arts & Sciences and an Ervin Scholar; and
• Rob Wild, PhD, associate vice chancellor and dean of the First Year Center.