A former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga chancellor and Baylor School headmaster, Bill Stacy was known for his strong passion for supporting students and faculty.
"You want a leader who is enthusiastic, who loves kids, who wants to make a difference, who is just enjoyable to be around," said Zan Guerry, a former trustee on a UTC foundation board and former chair of Baylor's board of trustees. "If you've seen pictures of Bill Stacy, you probably couldn't draw a better picture of the kind of headmaster you would like for kids to look up to."
Stacy died Thursday at 85, according to the funeral home handling his arrangements, Ford and Sons in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He was an optimist who was the driving force behind UTC's transformation from a commuter campus to a residential institution, said former UTC Chancellor Fred Obear.
"He was very respectful of the faculty and the faculty council," Obear said by phone. "He paid attention to what the leadership of the faculty, what the leadership of the administrative staff and what the leadership of the students had just suggested ... He had an open door policy in the Chancellor's Office, and he surrounded himself with good staff and let them do their jobs."
During his seven years as chancellor, Stacy worked with the foundation to expand across McCallie Avenue, bringing South Campus housing into existence and helping propel the university's growth. The expansion allowed the university to attract more students from other areas of Tennessee and out-of-state, Obear said.
He also established the university's first doctoral programs.
"He believed that great cities must also have great universities," Richard Brown, former UTC executive vice chancellor for administration and finance, said by phone. "He set out on a plan to make UT Chattanooga great so it could support the city."
Brown, who called Stacy a friend and great mentor, said Stacy always encouraged him to give his best to the university. He described Stacy as "larger than life."
"You could not have a bad day with Dr. Bill Stacy," Brown said. "He always found a way to see some good, even if it was bad."
In a letter to the campus community, UTC Chancellor Steve Angle said Stacy was "a truly transformational leader."
"He was easy to get along with, always entertaining and committed to bettering the lives of those around him," Angle said.
Stacy was also a philanthropist. He led fundraising efforts for the United Way of Greater Chattanooga while at UTC and Baylor and served as the organization's chair after he retired from education.
Former Baylor Headmaster Scott Wilson called Stacy a friend and said he was "one of the finest people you'd hope to know."
"I'm not sure he ever made an enemy," Wilson said by phone. "He was a strong leader, but people just admired him because they knew that he went about his life and work with integrity, and he was always just incredibly generous."
At Baylor, Stacy had a tremendous influence from Day One, Guerry said, leading efforts that upgraded several student facilities and athletic complexes and helped return fundraising enthusiasm to Baylor.
"He had no ego," Guerry said. "He didn't need to say, 'I did this' or 'I did this.' He believed in helping others do it. .... Bill Stacy was always about the team."
Before coming to Chattanooga, Stacy served for 10 years as the president of Southeast Missouri State University. In 1989, he became the founding president of California State University San Marcos.
Stacy is survived by his wife of 34 years, Sue Stacy, and three children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
"He was a loved human being," Wilson said. "I think that's, you know, the highest compliment I can give him. People loved him."