Dr. William P. Tolley ‘22

Chancellor Tolley

Dr. William Pearson Tolley Chancellor and President Syracuse University 1942-1969 Class of 1922, B.A.; Class of 1924, M.A. During his 27 years as chancellor of Syracuse University. Dr. Tolley’s vision helped transform the university into one of the nation’s largest private universities. Dr. Tolley was born in Honesdale, PA, and grew up in Binghamton, NY, where he worked in his father’s shoe store. In addition to his academic degrees from Syracuse University, Dr. Tolley received a bachelor’s degree from Drew Theological Seminary in 1935, and master’s degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1927 and 1930, respectively.

At age 27, he was the first Dean of Drew University. At age 30, he was named the President of Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. becoming the nation’s youngest President of a four-year college. Dr. Tolley returned to his alma mater in 1942 as the seventh chancellor and president of the university. At that time, he made tremendous attempts to help the war effort by bringing the Reserve Officers Training Corps to school. During the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s, Dr. Tolley refused to succumb pressures to remove ROTC from the university.

During his career. Dr. Tolley received 35 honorary Doctors degrees from American colleges and universities. Throughout career, Dr. Tolley held numerous important positions of service to higher education and government, too numerous to list here, as well as a being a member of eight scholastic societies, a director of numerous corporations, and was the recipient of count honors and awards.

Chancellor Tolley died January 26, 1996, at age 95. He led a life of learning, faith work in education and was well-respected and admired for his achievements in the field. His lifelong love was for his wife, the former Ruth Martin Canfield (SU Class 1922), who died in 1988. Dr. Tolley is survived by his children, Katryn T. Fr Manlius, NY, Nelda T. Price of St. Petersburg, FL, and William P. Tolley, Jr. (B.A. and a SU Army ROTC graduate; M.S. 1957), of Guilford, CT.