Walter Adams (b. 1922 d. 1998)

Walter Adams President
Michigan State University
1969–1970

Walter Adams was chosen to be Michigan State University's 13th president. Prior to his acceptance of the post, Adams was a professor of Economics at Michigan State University. Adams was asked to succeed President John A. Hannah, who had resigned his position as President in order to accept that as Administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID), in Washington, DC.

Adams assumed presidency on April 1, 1969 and vacated the office on January 1, 1970. At the outset, Adams made very clear that he did not want to be considered for the permanent presidency, a stand he maintained throughout, as is manifested in his letter to Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Don Stevens, on October 16, 1969. Adams maintained this position despite the fact that he was very popular with the students, faculty, and the Board of Trustees. When he stepped down from the Presidency, he resumed his former position, a post he held until retiring on December 31, 1992.

During his administration, Adams had to confront issues which were part of the general social and political conditions found throughout the United States as well as problems specific to Michigan State University. During his administration, the School of Osteopathic Medicine began to become a reality the Center for Urban Affairs became established and a proposal was made to establish a Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies.

Walter Adams was born August 27, 1922 in Vienna, Austria. He received a BA from Brooklyn College in 1942, and his MA and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University in 1946 and 1947, respectively. His graduate studies were interrupted by World War II, during which he served, with distinction, in the U.S. Army (1943–1945), receiving the Bronze Star Medal for heroic conduct.

In 1947, he joined the Michigan State faculty in Economics Department. After a long battle with the disease, Walter Adams died of complications from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 76, on September 8, 1998. Adams, and his wife Pauline, had one son, William J. Adams.

To commemorate Walter Adams' contributions to MSU the field west of Cowles House, long used as a practice area by the Marching Band, was renamed in honor of Dr. Adams. The field provides an area of rest and recreation for students and visitors alike. For years, Dr. Adams would join the MSU Marching Band for Saturday pre-football warm-ups, and then lead the band into Spartan Stadium.

Finding aid to the Walter Adams papers (UA 2.1.13)


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