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Dr. H. Bryce Jordan

Obituary for Dr. H. Bryce Jordan

September 22, 1924 - April 12, 2016
Austin, Texas | Age 91


Dr. H. Bryce Jordan, 91, President Emeritus of Penn State University, former Interim President of the University of Texas at Austin, and President Emeritus of the University of Texas at Dallas, passed away peacefully at his home in Austin on April 12. He had been in failing health for nearly two years.

Cherished husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend to all he met, Bryce Jordan saw the good in everyone and had the ability to bring it out. Gentle, selfless and kind, he will be remembered as an open, loving , caring man who always offered a welcoming smile and a helping hand. An inspiration to all who knew him, he maintained to the very end of his life a deep and abiding interest in the lives and careers of many of his former students and colleagues.

The son and only child of W. Joseph and Kittie Cole Jordan, he was born Sept. 22, 1924, in Clovis, N.M. He attended public schools in Clovis and in Abilene, TX, graduating from Abilene High School in 1941.

After his freshman college year at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, he volunteered in 1942 for the U.S. Army Air Forces for service in World War II. Discharged in 1946 with the rank of sergeant, he enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received the Bachelor of Music degree in 1948 and the Master of Music degree a year later.

In 1949, he returned to Abilene to join the music faculty at Hardin-Simmons as an assistant professor, teaching there for two years. In 1952, he enrolled in the graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving the Ph.D. in historical musicology with a minor in comparative literature.

In 1954, Jordan joined the faculty of the department of music at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he rose from assistant professor to full professor and served as director of graduate studies in music. In 1963, he moved on to become chairman of the department of music at the University of Kentucky, serving there for three years before accepting a similar position at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 1968, UT-Austin appointed Jordan the university's initial Vice President of Student Affairs, a post he held for two years before being named the university's Interim President in 1970.

In 1971, Jordan was tapped to become founding president of the newly established University of Texas at Dallas. During his 10-year tenure as president there, UT-Dallas grew from an institution with 50 faculty and 40 students housed in a single building, to a university with 215 faculty and more than 7,000 students.

Jordan returned to Austin in 1981 to serve as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs of the UT System, the position to which the presidents of the System's seven general academic institutions report. He held that post for two years, before accepting the appointment as Penn State's 14th president. He took office on July 1, 1983.

At Penn State, Jordan earned a national reputation as a leader in higher education. His challenge there was to propel the university toward academic distinction, moving it steadily toward peer recognition as one of the best public research universities in the nation. During his seven years at the helm, he not only laid the groundwork for Penn State's joining the Big Ten but also led the university's first-ever national private fundraising drive, a massive undertaking that ultimately raised nearly $400 million for endowed positions, scholarships and academic enrichment.

He also took Penn State into more active roles in addressing the commonwealth's economic problems and bolstering advanced technological development in both Pennsylvania and the nation. By 1990, the year Jordan left the presidency, a 130-acre research park with a business incubator in operation was under development on the east campus.

Following his retirement from Penn State and subsequent return to Austin, Jordan served as a consultant to a number of major public universities in the 1990s and early 2000s. Among these were the universities of North and South Carolina, Arizona State, Houston, Nebraska, Texas A&M, North Texas, the University of Texas at Dallas and, in 2001, the University of Rijeka, Croatia. He additionally spent six years on the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and, from 1993 to 2006, served as a special advisor to the presiding federal judge in Knight v. Alabama, a landmark desegregation case concerning the distribution of $140 million in federal and state funds to historically black public universities in Alabama.

The academic and administrative career of Dr. Jordan and his significant contributions to public education resulted in an overlap in the business world.
He has served as a director of the Mellon Bank Corporation , the Quaker State Corporation and the Harleysville Group, a holding company for property-casualty insurance companies. He additionally held various offices and committee appointments in several higher education organizations and was a 15-year member of the Conrad and Marcel Schlumberger Scholarship Committee.

In Austin, Jordan's civic and volunteer activities included service as chairman of the Austin Lyric Opera, the Fine Arts Advisory Council at the University of Texas at Austin and the advisory council of the University of Texas Press.

During his time in Dallas, Jordan served on the boards of St. Mark's School of Texas, the Dallas Symphony Association, the Dallas Grand Opera Association, the Dallas County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. He was president of the Dallas Civic Music Association and served on the executive committee of Presbyterian Hospital.

In Pennsylvania, he served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Economic Partnership and of the Pennsylvania Business Roundtable and was statewide chairman of the Pennsylvania Heart Association campaign.

Jordan holds honorary doctorates from several universities and has been designated a Distinguished Alumnus by The University of North Carolina, Hardin-Simmons University and The University of Texas at Austin. In 2002, he was awarded The University of Texas Presidential Citation, an honor recognizing those who have brought great distinction to the university. He also was the first recipient of UT-Austin's Doty Award, the highest honor bestowed by the College of Fine Arts.

Jordan is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Austin; his daughter, Julie Ohlen, and her husband, Keith Ohlen, of Coppell, TX; his son, Christopher J. Jordan, and his wife, Lucille Guinta-Bates, of St. Cloud, MN, and his stepson, Gregory E. Brueggebors, and his wife, Kelly, of Austin, TX. Also surviving are grandchildren Brooke Ohlen of Fort Worth, TX, Hunter Ohlen of Coppell, TX, Barbara Bates of St. Cloud, MN, and Gillian, Konner and Gianna Brueggebors of Hutto and Austin, TX. Also surviving is a cousin, Rosan DeCaro, and her husband, Frank DeCaro, of New Orleans, LA.

Jordan was preceded in death by his first wife, Jonelle Thornberry Jordan.

He was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Austin, where he was a Ruling Elder.

Special and sincere thanks go to Dr. Kenneth Kroll, whose medical advice and compassionate care were so greatly appreciated by Bryce Jordan and the entire family, and to Bryce's daily caregiver, Juan Bran, for his always kind, invaluable assistance.

Arrangements are under the care of Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Homes, Austin, TX.

A memorial celebration of Bryce Jordan's life will be held in Austin this summer at a time and place to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, the family invites a gift in his memory to any of the following scholarship programs. The Doty Society (benefiting UT-Austin's College of Fine Arts) with checks made payable to the University of Texas at Austin and mailed to The Doty Society, UT College of Fine Arts, 2305 Trinity St., D1400, Austin, TX 78712-1424. UT-Dallas gifts may be made payable to UT-Dallas and directed to the Bryce and Jonelle Jordan Scholarship Fund at the UT-Dallas Office of Development and Alumni Relations, 800 W. Campbell Rd., Richardson, TX 75080. Gifts to Penn State may be made payable to the university and directed to the Bryce and Jonelle Jordan Excellence Fund, Penn State University, 1 Old Main, University Park, PA 16802.

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Austin, TX 78705
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