Paige E. Mulhollan, the third president of Wright State University who served from 1985-1994 while overseeing the building of the Russ Engineering Center, the Nutter Center and WSU’s move from NCAA Division II athletics to Division I, died Saturday night at the Willard Walker Hospice Home in Fayetteville, Ark. He was 77.
Mulhollan, who was in Dayton on June 18 when one of the athletic fields in the new Rinzler Student Sports Complex was dedicated in his honor, suffered a stroke as he was walking off the field where ceremonies were held.
He was rushed to Miami Valley Hospital, where he stayed a week before he was sent to his home Hospice with his family.
He had been suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s, said Allan Rinzler, who served on Mulhollan’s board of trustees and donated with his wife, Brenda, the seed money for the Rinzler Complex.
Still, he was able to attend the ceremonies for the Rinzler Center, arriving from his home in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sunday, June 17. He grew up in Arkansas and obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas.
“President Mulhollan was a visionary,” said current WSU president David R. Hopkins. “He recognized the importance of research excellence and community service as integral to the academic experience of our students. Paige was for education in the full university experience.
“We are forever indebted to him, and our hearts go out to his wife, Mary Bess, and his sons, Paige Jr. and Kelly.”
Paige Mulhollan Jr. accompanied his father to WSU for the dedication ceremony, along with the rest of the family.
“He was the smartest guy I ever met,” Rinzler said. “He could be walking down the aisle of a full auditorium of academicians and you could tell him what he had to speak on, and he could talk for an hour on whatever it was.”
Rinzler wasn’t the only one impressed with Mulhollan’s mind.
“He had the fastest mind of anybody I’ve ever been around,” said Mike Cusack, who was athletics director at WSU during Mulhollan’s entire term. “He understood people. He understood athletics.
“I reported to him. He was the guy at Arizona State when (football coach) Frank Kush was fired (for allegedly punching a player and “mental and physical harassment”). He also did research on Lyndon Johnson that’s in the LBJ library.”
Mulhollan received his Ph.D in history from the University of Texas in 1966 and held various positions at Kansas State University, the University of Oklahoma and Arizona State, where he was executive vice president when he was hired by WSU.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Bess, and two sons, Paige and Kelly, three grandchildren and a great grandchild.
Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2157 or mkatz@Dayton DailyNews.com.