Phillip R. Marshall, the 10th chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), died Monday, March 18, in Seattle, Wash.
Marshall, who was 86, served as chancellor from 1979 to 1989, replacing Lee Sherman Dreyfus, who had resigned to become governor of Wisconsin.
A science teacher in the first years of his career, Marshall returned to the classroom while still chancellor in the mid-1980s, and after his retirement taught chemistry fulltime for the fall semester for three years.
As a scientist, he served as associate program director for the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C.; as a researcher for the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio; and as faculty director at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.
In his book about the history of UWSP, “The World Is Ours,” Justus Paul wrote that “Marshall focused his efforts on several specific areas of campus and faculty improvement.”
Reminiscent of today’s challenges, Paul wrote that Marshall fought to improve faculty salaries at UWSP and throughout the University of Wisconsin System because other universities were offering professors more money to leave their positions.
The campus became known as a Center for Excellence in Writing under Marshall, Paul wrote, with efforts to emphasize student literacy and install a writing component for classes in all academic areas, with the faculty adopting a requirement that all students had to complete two “writing emphasis” courses for general degree requirements.
Thirdly, Paul wrote, Marshall “made the decision to move the campus into a frontline position in the development of computing,” working to receive grants to stimulate computer literacy and link the campus through a distributive computer network instead of a mainframe computing environment.
Grants from AT&T enabled UWSP to install a fiber optic based network and establish the university as a showcase campus as UWSP established itself as a leader in computing, especially within the UW System.
The Marshall years also included budgetary battles as the state reduced funding while enrollment climbed, reaching 9,497 in the fall of 1985. That led to the UW System beginning a program of “enrollment management,” setting tighter enrollment standards. Enrollment peaked at 9,555 in the fall of 1986, but then began declining.
On the construction side, a $2 million paper science addition to the Science Building was begun in 1988 and the Health Enhancement Center was finally approved in 1989 after years of proposals.
The Health Enhancement Center was dedicated late in 1988 to Marshall and his wife Helen in appreciation of “unfailing loyalty and dedication” to the university, particularly its wellness, recreation and athletic programs. The Marshalls had shown joint support for both men’s and women’s athletics during their years at UWSP, an interest perhaps spurred by Marshall’s participation in sports in college at Earlham College in Indiana as a football quarterback and in track and basketball.
One other thing that Marshall promoted was a belief in the need for an institution to have a sense of community and purpose, acknowledging he felt the North Central Association’s accrediting team was correct in praising the campus for having developed a sense of community.
Marshall was active in the Portage County community, serving the Central Wisconsin Area Chamber of Commerce and as a board member of the YMCA, Sentry Foundation and Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra.