Elvis Jacob Stahr, Jr.


Honorary Degree (1976)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


When Elvis Stahr left his native city of Hickman, Kentucky to enter the University of Kentucky, he unknowingly took the first step toward a career that would in its course bring him to the leadership of Indiana University. At Lexington, he found the breadth of opportunity to develop and demonstrate his ability to lead in academic and extracurricular fields. It has been the variety of his successful administrative roles which has characterized his career.

The first of these, law, in which he trained at Merton College of Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, he began in the New York law firm of Mudge, Stern, Williams and Tucker but turned to the teaching of law at the University of Kentucky, where he became Dean of the Law School at age 32. Another career had its start when he interrupted his law practice to serve in the United States Army, 1940-1945. As an officer-student at Yale, he earned a diploma in the Chinese language and subsequently served from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel in the China-Burma-India theater. He was a special assistant to The Secretary of The Army in 1951-1952 and consultant to the Department of the Army the following year. President Kennedy appointed him to the post of Secretary of The Army in 1961. Dr. Stahr for three years headed the Association of the United States Army and since 1973 has been national chairman of the U.S.O.

His first appointment to top educational administration came when he was named Provost of the University of Kentucky in 1954. Two years later, President Eisenhower selected him to be Executive Director of the Committee on Education beyond High School. He then served successively as Vice Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh and President of West Virginia University before becoming, after his stint as Secretary of the Army, the twelfth President of Indiana University. Concomitantly, he served in the high councils of the National Commission on Accrediting, the American Universities Field Staff, the Midwestern Universities Research Association, the Institute for Services to Education, Educational Projects, Inc., the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, the State Universities Association, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the Argonne Universities Association, the Universities Research Association, Inc., the American Council on Education, the Council for Financial Aid to Education, and on the Higher Education Advisory Committee of the Education Commission of the States. In many instances he was a presiding officer of these advisory bodies.

In the fall of 1968, Dr. Stahr became President of the National Audubon Association. He has directed its emergence as an influential voice here and abroad for conservation and environmental protection. He was a member of the U.S. delegation in the Joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. Committee on Cooperation for Protection of the Environment and also a delegate to the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment in 1972 at Stockholm. He has served as a Trustee of the National Recreation and Park Association and, since 1969, has sat on the executive committee of the Citizens Committee for Natural Resources in the United States.

The multiplicity of high honors awarded to him attest to the excellence of his leadership and the productivity of his service in the four facets of his career.