July 09 2015
Category: Campus Life
The Reverend Dr. Leonard T. Grant
Eleventh President of Elmira College
May 8, 1930 — June 24, 2015
The Rev. Dr. Leonard T. Grant, Eleventh President of Elmira College, passed away in St. Augustine, Florida, at the age of 85 surrounded by his beloved ones.
In 1976, Dr. Grant was named President of Elmira College. During his time at Elmira College, Dr. Grant boosted the size of the endowment fund and reduced the debt by instituting improved cost accounting procedures, keeping tuition lower than average for New York private colleges, and maintaining balanced budgets despite the economic hardships of the mid-1980s. He placed an emphasis on providing liberal arts education even for pre-professional programs, believing that it was vital for the college to teach lessons that were applicable to daily life and careers. New degree programs were introduced with this philosophy in mind, including Criminal Justice, Nursing, Physical Education, Computer Systems, Medical Terminology, Education, and Speech and Hearing. He also added or reinvigorated cultural programs, including Junior Year Abroad, Washington Center, and the Drew Semester at the United Nations, which encouraged the students to achieve a more global perspective. He improved student life, expanded career services, and initiated $1 million computer expansion. In addition, he was able to raise more than $50,000 to help support the production of “Recollections Magic Sway”, a movie commemorating the 125th anniversary of Elmira College. Dr. Grant had a humanistic style that endeared people to him. He is remembered as a leader who treated everyone with kindness and with an openness that was greatly admired by both faculty and students alike.
The College honored Dr. Grant with the Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters in 1987.
Dr. Grant was born at the cusp of the Depression to Allaire H. and Edith M. Grant of Lakewood and Merchantville, New Jersey. The Rev. Grant lived an active life of service to numerous churches, colleges, and universities. Dr. Grant played on the 1947 Merchantville High School State Championship team alongside South Jersey basketball legend George Dempsey. He attended Rutgers College of South Jersey on a basketball scholarship, graduating in 1952. In 1954, Rev. Grant graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained at the First Presbyterian Church of Merchantville before taking his first Congregation in Camden. While at First Presbyterian Church, he received a Master’s Degree in Sacred Theology from Temple University. In 1958, he married his beloved wife Nancy E. MacKerell, also of Merchantville, and the two went on “a three-year honeymoon” to Scotland where the future Dr. Grant obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. The young couple returned to the U.S. where Dr. Grant became Pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wenonah, New Jersey. In 1965, he moved to Indianapolis to become the Dean of Indiana Central College. While living in Indianapolis, he served as the Pastor of the Groveland Presbyterian Church in Bainbridge, Indiana.
After retiring in 1987, he went to New York City where he served as President of the Independent College Fund of New York for many years. He went on to serve as the Associate Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, New Jersey and the nearby Westfield Presbyterian Church.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 18, 2015 at First Presbyterian Church, 10 West Maple Ave in Merchantville, New Jersey. Dr. Grant is survived by his children Scott, Elisabeth, and Constance; and their spouses Sharon and Dave; his grandchildren Austin, Amanda, and Alexander. Along with his Sister Gloria Monahan of Westfield, New Jersey.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that you make donations to either the Leonard Tydings Grant Professorship at Elmira College, Elmira, New York, or the Princeton Theological Seminary General Scholarship Fund, Princeton, New Jersey in Dr. Grant’s name.