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Memorial Services for Dr. Jack Wakeley Set for Thursday

Feb. 23, 2011

Cullowhee, N.C. - John Halbert "Jack" Wakeley, a former vice chancellor for academic affairs at Western Carolina University who also served as the institution's interim chancellor during the 1994-95 academic year, died Friday, Feb. 18, at the age of 78.

Wakeley, interim chancellor at Western Carolina after the retirement of Myron "Barney" Coulter in 1994 until the 1995 appointment of current chancellor John W. Bardo, died at his home in Cullowhee.

A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, in the recital hall of the Coulter Building. The family will receive friends in the lobby of the recital hall at noon prior to the service.

The Western Carolina Track and Field Team invites individuals to join them as they walk to the memorial service for Dr. Wakeley departing at 12:20 pm on Thursday, beginning at the Cordelia Camp Building, going through the center of campus to the Coulter Recital Hall. Participants are welcome to join the walk at any interval on campus.

The Rev. David Reeves of Cullowhee United Methodist Church will officiate. Eulogies will be delivered by Anthony Hickey, WCU professor of sociology and former dean of the Graduate School; Roger Bacon, retired professor of chemistry who frequently played racquetball with Wakeley; Danny Williamson, head coach of WCU's track and field, and cross country programs; and one of Williamson's student-athletes.

Wakeley is survived by his wife of 54 years, Esther Sue Wakeley; two daughters, Susan Elaine Wakeley Hamilton of Dallas, Ga., and Sara Diane Wakeley Taylor of Rockwell, Texas; two sons, Daniel Reed Wakeley of South Bend, Ind., and Joel Richard Wakeley of Cordova, Tenn.; one brother, Robert Alan Wakeley of Crestline, Ohio; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Born in Crawford County, Ohio, Wakeley was the son of the late John Matthews Wakeley and Winifred Kanable Wakeley. He was preceded in death by a sister, Elaine Wakeley Neff.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial gifts be made to the Sue and Jack Wakeley Scholar Athlete Award Fund for Track, Field and Cross Country.

"Jack Wakeley was a consummate professional and very kind human being. I have known Jack since we were both deans and he always had a strong, positive impact on any university with which he was associated," Bardo said.

"Jack will be remembered as a gentleman, a brilliant scholar, an able administrator, a generous benefactor and a long-time friend to Western Carolina. His contributions to this university - in the classroom, in the boardroom and beyond - continue to be felt today. His presence on our campus will be sorely missed," he said.

Wakeley came to WCU as vice chancellor for academic affairs in 1987 from Memphis State University, where he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. During his tenure as the university's chief academic officer, Wakeley was responsible for numerous changes in the academic program, including the addition of WCU's first doctoral degree and a master's degree program in physical therapy.

Wakeley led the university in developing a strong program in educational assessment and an increasing emphasis on teaching and learning. He fostered programs to promote and encourage faculty professional development, including support for faculty scholarly assignments.

A dedicated patron of the arts, Wakeley helped launch an outdoor sculpture program that continues to flourish on campus, and he was among the dignitaries who cut the ribbon at the grand opening of WCU's Fine and Performing Arts Center in 2005.

Wakeley stepped down from administration at WCU and returned to teaching as a full professor of psychology in 1996. He retired from WCU in 1999.

Looking for a way to get back in touch with students, he became a volunteer assistant for the track, field and cross country squads. He and wife Sue in 1999 established an endowed fund to provide scholarships for male and female athletes in track and field, and cross country.

Wakeley was a 1954 graduate of the College of Wooster in Ohio. After serving in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1954 to 1956, he attended N.C. State University, receiving a master's degree in 1958. He earned his doctorate in psychology from Michigan State University in 1961.

After working for three years as a research associate in the personnel department of Corning Glass Works in Corning, N.Y., Wakeley began his academic career as an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State in 1964. There, he advanced to become chairman of the psychology department in 1973, serving for seven years until becoming dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Memphis State in 1980.

He was author or editor of numerous books and articles on organizational management and the psychology of industrial behavior, and served on the advisory board of the Academic Psychology Bulletin and the editorial board of Administration and Society.

Melton Funeral Home of Sylva is assisting with arrangements. An online registry is available at

To make a memorial contribution to the Sue and Jack Wakeley Scholar Athlete Award Fund for Track, Field and Cross Country, visit the website for online giving; send a check to Western Carolina University, Office of Development, 201 H.F. Robinson Administration Building, Cullowhee, N.C. 28723; or call 828-227-7124 (toll-free at 800-492-8496) to make a gift using American Express, Discover, MasterCard or VISA.