Joe Crowley, whose quiet but steady hand led the University of Nevada Reno for more than 20 years, died Tuesday at age 84.
Crowley died of complications from pneumonia.
Crowley, who was hired at UNR in 1966, was chairman of the campus political science department when he was tapped to replace Max Milam in 1978. By the time he retired in 2001, he was the longest serving president in the university’s history at 23 years. He returned for another half year to carry the campus through another period as interim president in 2006.
Gov. Brian Sandoval said he considered Crowley a mentor when he was one of Crowley’s students in the 1980s.
“He presided over the university with poise, class and integrity and I am proud to have been one of the countless students served by this remarkable man,” said Sandoval. “I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a student in his political science class.”
Regents Chairman Kevin Page, vice chairman Jason Geddes and Chancellor Thom Reilly issued a statement praising Crowley’s ‘extraordinary ability to work with his fellow institution presidents and the Nevada Legislature.”
“Joe built a remarkable foundation for UNR and his legacy will continue to positively influence students for generations to come,” they said.
He was instrumental in the founding and expansion of the medical school as well as efforts to drive research at UNR, moving the campus up the scale in national rankings. He also made it a priority to improve diversity and community service on campus.
During many of those years when the community colleges and UNLV were in their infancy, it was Crowley who worked tirelessly in the legislative halls to support and enhance not only his campus but the other institutions in the system.
“While Dr. Crowley wore many hats at UNR, he always made sure to put the educational needs of Nevadans first, working hard each day to advance the university’s mission to provide ‘outstanding learning, discovery, and engagement programs.’ Without a doubt, Dr. Crowley’s strong leadership and dedication has done great things for UNR and Nevada and he will be greatly missed,” said Congressman Mark Amodei.
After his retirement, he returned to the campus for a time to teach history.
More recently, he became interested in the marijuana business because his brother suffered from multiple sclerosis. He became president of Sierra Wellness Connection, which was licensed to provide medical marijuana to Reno and Carson City area patients.
Crowley was hospitalized less than a month ago suffering from pneumonia. He is survived by his wife Joy, four children and seven grandchildren.