Dr. Schley R. Lyons, former long-time dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (now the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) passed away on Saturday, July 17, in Charlotte. Dr. Lyons joined the faculty of UNC Charlotte in 1969 as Chair of the Department of Political Science, a position he held for 11 years. During that time, he established the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in l971 and developed a graduate program in urban administration.
Dr. Lyons was appointed Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1980 and interim dean in 1985. He served as interim dean of the college during 1985-86.
Following a national search, he was appointed dean and held the position until he retired in 2005. During his tenure the number of full-time college faculty increased from 281 to 435 and student enrollment almost doubled, from 4,307 to 8,465. New departments and academic programs were added, including five doctoral programs. Student services were expanded, adding a College Advising Center, and a technology service unit for students and faculty was established. Under his leadership, external funding and faculty research in the college grew significantly which greatly enhanced the growing reputation of UNC Charlotte as a major research university.
"Schley was a wonderful dean," said UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois, who'd known Lyons since the early 1990s when Dubois was UNC Charlotte's provost. "That job is all about hiring the right people. He hired really good faculty and really good department heads. He probably hired all the senior faculty on campus. That's why we're as solid an institution as we are."
After retiring in 2005, Dr. Lyons continued to teach for several years and recently authored the Politics and Government chapter in The North Carolina Atlas.
Dr. Lyons was a 1955 graduate of Shepherd University and, following his military service, received his Ph.D. from American University in 1964. His research areas included North Carolina state and local politics and American Electoral behavior. His research continues to be cited and he was sought after as a political commentator in news media locally and regionally.
His distinguished legacy includes the founding of Leadership Charlotte, which has cultivated over 1,000 community leaders since its inception in 1978, and the UNC Charlotte Taft Institute for Two-Party Government, which taught thousands of secondary school teachers to place real politics at the center of their teaching of social studies. Leadership Charlotte annually recognizes an outstanding community leader with the Schley R. Lyons Circle of Excellence award commemorating Dr. Lyons contributions to the development of civic leadership in Charlotte. In recognition of Dr. Lyons’ 36 years of dedicated service to UNC Charlotte and the greater community, a lecture hall in Fretwell Hall is named in his honor.
"Dr. Lyons was known across the UNC Charlotte campus community for his distinctive laugh, his sharp political wit, his competitive tennis game, and his championship ballroom dancing skills," said Dubois. "He will be missed by his many friends and colleagues."
An article about Lyons' passing appeared in the July 19 edition of The Charlotte Observer: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/07/19/1570844/schley-lyons-1933-2010.html#ixzz0u7iHr5bE
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