The Citadel's 16th president dies at age 91
Maj. Gen. James A. Grimsley, Jr., the 16th president of The Citadel, died today. Grimsley, who served as president of the college from 1980 until 1989, was named president emeritus upon his retirement, a designation previously given to only Gen. Charles P. Summerall and Gen. Mark W. Clark.
"Gen. Grimsley was a trailblazer in his time. His tenure at The Citadel was marked by a renewed emphasis on leadership and academic standards," said Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa. "The Citadel is what it is today because of Gen. Grimsley. He will be missed."
A memorial service will be held in Summerall Chapel, Friday, June 14, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. The Grimsley Family will receive guests immediately following in Mark Clark Hall. Graveside services will be held at 2:00 p.m. at Beaufort National Ceremony.
"This is a sad day," said Doug Snyder, chairman of the Board of Visitors. "Gen. Grimsley was the consummate Citadel leader, and his impact was far reaching."
Grimsley was born in Florence, S.C., on Nov. 14, 1921. He entered The Citadel in 1938. As a cadet he was the commander of Charlie Company, a member of the Bond Volunteers, the Summerall Guards, the Junior Sword Drill, chairman of the Standing Hop Committee and president of the Pee Dee Area Citadel Club. He was also listed in Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. In 1942, he graduated with a degree in Business Administration and was commissioned second lieutenant of infantry in the United States Army.
His Army career spanned 33 years and included combat service in World War II and Vietnam. With assignments spread equally among troop duty and senior level staff positions, he advanced through the grades to major general and completed his career as the director of security assistance plans and policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During his active duty career, he received 35 major decorations, including two Silver Star medals for gallantry in action; four Bronze Star medals for valor; the Distinguished Service Medal; four Legion of Merit awards; and three Purple Heart medals.
Grimsley retired from the Army in September 1975 to accept the position of vice president for administration and finance at The Citadel. Subsequently, he assumed the position of interim president of The Citadel, on Aug. 25, 1980. He was named the 16th president of the military college on Dec. 6, 1980 and served until his retirement on June 30, 1989. At that time, the Board of Visitors named him president emeritus, a designation previously given only to Gen. Charles P. Summerall and Gen. Mark W. Clark.
During Grimsley's tenure, the traditional standards of leadership and discipline of the Corps of Cadets were reestablished. Academic programs and faculty quality were strengthened through a series of major initiatives, bringing national recognition. These included the development of a core curriculum; establishment of an honors program; formation of The Citadel Writing Center and The Citadel Inn of Court; establishment and filling with distinguished professors six academic department chairs; creation of a state-of-the-art computer center; and formalized criteria for the graduate faculty. In 1985, The Citadel was selected among the top 10 regional institutions in the first "U.S. News & World Report" evaluation, a distinction that has continued to date. In addition, major improvements to the physical plant were completed, with others initiated for accomplishment throughout the 1990's.
Grimsley's legacy on campus will be lasting. Grimsley Hall replaced Alumni Hall in 1991 and the building is named in his honor. The building is situated facing the north side of Summerall Field and houses both the physics and electrical engineering departments, Copeland Auditorium, computer rooms and extensive laboratories.
Grimsley is predeceased by his wife of 64 years, the former Jessie Lawson of Florence, South Carolina. They are survived by three children—James A. Grimsley, III (a 1968 Citadel graduate), Mrs. Anne Bander, and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William F. Grimsley, and seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.