incent O’Leary, who served as the University at Albany’s 15th president, passed away April 22, 2011, in Maryland. He was 86.
A California native educated at San Francisco State College and the University of Washington, O’Leary was widely respected for his expertise in probation and parole. His career included service as assistant director of the National Crime Commission under President Lyndon Johnson; director of Research and Policy for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency; director of parole supervision for the State of Texas; and chief probation and parole officer for the State of Washington.
O’Leary joined the University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice in 1968, later serving as dean. He became president of the University in 1977 and, for the next 13 years, oversaw remarkable growth in both programs and facilities. Ph.D. programs restored and created through the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy attained national recognition. The University’s School of Public Health, which observed its 25th anniversary this year, was founded in partnership with David Axelrod, M.D., then New York State’s health commissioner. Under O’Leary’s leadership, the University launched its first international exchange efforts; expanded student housing; planned for the construction of the athletics facility now known as SEFCU Arena and of the Science Library, both located on the uptown campus; and significantly increased the amount of external research funding its programs attracted.
O’Leary advanced the University in other ways, as well, particularly with regard to improving diversity. Programs set in place to promote understanding and ease tensions also attracted more people of color to the ranks of faculty, students and staff.
In The Improbable President, his 2004 memoir, O’Leary recounted his years at the helm of the University at Albany.
After completing his tenure as president in 1990, O’Leary returned to the School of Criminal Justice faculty. He taught there until
retiring to California with his wife, Lihua Yu O’Leary.
O’Leary is survived by his wife; daughters Beth O’Leary and Cathy Goldwyn; stepchildren Lena, Eugene and Anna Sun; and 10 grandchildren.
The family requests that gifts in Vincent O’Leary’s name be made to the University he loved so much. Checks payable to The University at Albany Foundation may be directed to The Foundation’s office at: University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., UAB 226, Albany, NY 12222.
A memorial service for former President O’Leary will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, in the SEFCU Arena’s Hall of Fame Room.