This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
Chancellor Emeritus Leonard Haas Dies March 14 in Eau Claire
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900

MAILED: March 16, 1998

EAU CLAIRE -- Leonard Haas, whose career at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire spanned 44 years including 21 years as chancellor, died March 14 in Eau Claire at the age of 83.
Haas was UW-Eau Claire's third chief executive when he was named chancellor in 1959. He retired Dec. 31, 1980. Prior to his appointment as chancellor, he held a number of top administrative posts at UW-Eau Claire including dean of instruction and registrar for 11 years and director of teacher education and placement for two years. From 1941-44 and 1946-48, he was instructor of history and government.
"Leonard Haas' stature in the higher education community cannot be overstated," said Marjorie Smelstor, interim chancellor at UW-Eau Claire. "On the national level he played a significant role in the development of the American Association of State Colleges, both as a founder and as a member of several key committees. On the state level his vision and leadership helped shape the UW System, as we know it today. And of course at UW-Eau Claire his legacy is enormous. In particular we remember his commitment to internationalizing the campus, which began when he was chancellor and continued throughout his years as emeritus chancellor."
A native of Eau Claire, Haas was born Feb. 17, 1915. He earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1935 from UW-Eau Claire, a master's degree in history from UW-Madison in 1938, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1954. He did additional graduate study at Columbia University and the University of Southern California. He was awarded the LL.D. by St. Olaf College in 1968.
Haas began his teaching career in Watertown, S.D., in 1935. He taught at Wausau Senior High School from 1938-41, before returning to UW-Eau Claire as an instructor of history and government.
His tenure at UW-Eau Claire was marked by rapid growth in enrollment, curriculum and facilities. In 1941, there were 600 students and the campus consisted of one building, Schofield Hall, on 27 acres. By 1980, there were nearly 11,000 students and the campus had expanded to 25 buildings on 314 acres. Under his leadership the institution progressed from a college with basic academic quality as recognized by membership in the American Association of Teachers Colleges to a university recognized for its high academic quality, as attested to by national recognition in membership and recognition of academic excellence in 30 honor societies and accreditations. It grew from a college with limited financial support in a relatively small geographical setting to a university with national and international recognition and a student body representative of the State of Wisconsin, as well as students from all parts of the United States and abroad. Eighty percent of the total baccalaureate degrees awarded by the university by 1980 were granted during the Haas years.
In the early 1970s, Haas left UW-Eau Claire for two years and served as executive vice president of the UW System, playing a major role during the difficult period when Wisconsin's state colleges and universities merged into a single university system. His leadership activities extended into the community where he served as president of the Eau Claire City Council, president of the Eau Claire Kiwanis Club and Kiwanis Lt. Governor of Wisconsin-Upper Michigan, and as a board member of numerous civic, church and health organizations. In 1966, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the UW-Eau Claire Alumni Association. In 1986, UW-Eau Claire's Fine Arts Center was dedicated to Haas and his wife Dorellen in recognition of their longtime support and enjoyment of the arts on the campus.
It was Haas who chose the word "Excellence" as the unofficial motto for the university. In 1966, the faculty passed a resolution adopting the logo of "Excellence" to be a part of the official documents for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the college. The development of international exchange programs with Monterey, Mexico, Stockholm, Sweden, and with Norway, Germany, France, England, Scotland, Japan and other nations also took place during the Haas administration.
The Leonard and Dorellen Haas Endowment Fund was established through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation in 1980. The income from this fund is made available annually to the university to provide that margin of excellence the Haases always sought for the university.
Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, March 19, at Grace Lutheran Church, Eau Claire. The Rev. Rolf Nestingen will officiate. The visitation is scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, at the Lenmark-Gomsrud Funeral Home in Eau Claire and one hour before services at the church. Memorials are suggested to the Leonard and Dorellen Haas Endowment Fund of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation or the Grace Lutheran Foundation.
The flag atop Schofield Hall will be at half-staff Thursday, March 19, in memory of Chancellor Emeritus Haas.


UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741

Updated: March 16, 1998