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October 29, 2003

Media Contact: Pat JaCoby (858) 534-7404


Patrick J. Ledden, provost of John Muir College at the University of California, San Diego, former associate chancellor and a mathematician with a penchant for public art and the literature of James Joyce, died Oct. 28 at Thornton Hospital, La Jolla, after a long battle with stomach cancer. He was 67.

Both educator and administrator, Ledden served for the past 16 years as provost of the UCSD college he said “maintains the heritage of the remarkable man for whom it was named. John Muir (naturalist, conservationist, and writer) was committed to learning, self-sufficiency and the betterment of mankind.” Ledden assumed duties in 1987as the second provost of Muir College, one of six colleges at UCSD. He was an ardent supporter of undergraduate student at UCSD. He encouraged intellectual breath among undergraduates and supported development of interdisciplinary programs such as critical gender studies, environmental studies and film studies.

A mathematician by academic studies, Ledden held a bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., a master’s from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate from Stanford University, all in mathematics. He specialized in the field of topology, a type of geometry, and taught mathematics at UCSD for 36 years. The teaching and mentoring of UCSD undergraduates was of vital importance to Ledden and helped draw him into an administrative role in the college system at UCSD.

But it was in the humanities that the scholar and art enthusiast found pivotal roles and outlets, both at UCSD and within the San Diego community at large.

Richard C. Atkinson, president emeritus of the University of California and former UCSD chancellor, said “Pat Ledden was an individual who played a key role in the development of UCSD as a great university. When I arrived as chancellor in 1980 he became my closest associate and friend and his assistance was absolutely critical. He was dedicated to his students and deeply focused on the University’s academic programs. His death is a great loss to the University and to me personally.”

Robert C. Dynes, president of the University of California, said “Pat has had an extraordinary influence on UCSD—as associate chancellor, mathematics professor, provost and shepherd of the Stuart Collection. As comfortable reciting Joyce’s poetry as explaining a math equation, he truly was beloved by his students as well as his colleagues. His passing is a deep personal loss as well as a profound loss to the campus.”

Acting Chancellor Marsha Chandler said “Pat has personified what was best about UCSD. He truly was a Renaissance man who cared deeply about the campus, his students, and UCSD’s core values. His wisdom shaped this institution but he will best be remembered for his unshakable integrity and great heart. We have lost a dear friend and true statesman.”

While serving as UCSD’s associate chancellor under Atkinson through 1987, Ledden was closely involved with the development of the Stuart Collection of outdoor site-specific sculpture which now includes 15 works scattered about the UCSD campus and has received national attention as being innovative, qualitative, and challenging.

“Art has a serious side, but it also can be very playful,” Ledden said. “When you look at it, it should evoke some kind of emotion. It’s not like a math class … I think each piece evoked some controversy when first put up. If it isn’t challenging, it shouldn’t be there anyway.”

In addition to honing the agreement for the Stuart Collection that Atkinson took to the UC Regents for approval in 1981 and to providing ongoing support for the collection, Ledden served as a Stuart Foundation Board member. He also was president of the board of the Russell Foundation which was established in 1980 to strengthen bonds between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and UCSD.

The Russell Foundation made art acquisitions possible for MCASD and at UCSD, made student grants available, provided funding for two pieces for the Stuart Collection and a studio addition to the Visual Arts Department. The foundation dissolved in 1994, when Ledden said the costs of its maintenance took too much away from its original goal of supporting the arts. In its dissolution, both MCASD and UCSD received $300,000 toward their arts programs to be used in the most beneficial and economic way.

Literature also was a particular interest to Ledden, especially the writings of James Joyce, and he contributed articles to the James Joyce Quarterly and the James Joyce Annual, including titles such as “Michael J. F. McCarthy and Joyce’s Dublin,” and “Some Comments on Vincent Cheng’s Empire and Patriarchy in The Dead in Joyce.”

Ledden taught an upper division seminar on Joyce in the Department of Literature, and he also sparked the idea for a daylong reading of Joyce’s classic novel, Ulysses, at the UCSD Bookstore in observance of the anniversary of Bloomsday, on June 16, 1904, chronicled in the book and celebrating the travels of its protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

“I think it’s an extraordinarily powerful book and people who finally get through it develop a very profound relationship with the central character, Leopold Bloom,” said Ledden, who also wrote on Joyce for the Journal of Modern Literature and Joyce and the Joyceans (Syracuse University Press).

In addition to his duties at Muir College and as associate chancellor and lecturer, Ledden served as acting provost of Earl Warren College 1973-74, playing a pivotal role in overseeing the beginning stages of its planning and development. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and served as president of the UCSD chapter; a member of the Mathematical Association of America, and has been a trustee of MCASD, the Children’s Museum, and the Rees-Stealy Research Foundation.

While associate chancellor he helped start UCSD TV and—as one of the most articulate and eloquent campus figures—served as host of ‘UCSD conversations” on UCSD TV, where he interviewed visiting academicians and UCSD faculty from a wide variety of disciplines. He also played an important role in helping start the Preuss School, a sixth to 12th grade school dedicated to providing a college prep education for motivated low-income students.

In 1965-66, Ledden was a lecturer in pure mathematics at the University of Liverpool in England. In a San Diego Tribune column item in 1982, Neil Morgan wrote: “UCSD assistant chancellor Pat Ledden and his wife, Sally, were in Liverpool, England, when they decided to move to San Diego. Of all bizarre reasons: Their research in drizzly Liverpool showed San Diego with the same sparse average annual rainfall as Timbuktu.”
Ledden is survived by his wife, Sally, of La Jolla, and a son, Patrick Ledden Jr., of Boston.

The family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Patrick Ledden UCSD Undergraduate Scholarship Fund or the Patrick Ledden Preuss School Scholarship Fund through the UC San Diego Foundation, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla 92093.

Private funeral services are planned. A memorial service will be held at UCSD in January.

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Additional quotes about Pat Ledden:

David K. Jordan, Warren College Provost and chair, Council of Provosts:
“When I first came to UCSD, I almost immediately heard of Pat Ledden as a phenomenal teacher, able to make the dreaded “Math 5” thrilling. As the years passed, I came to know him as phenomenal in other ways as well—a loyal friend, a wise counselor, a consummate diplomat, and an intellectual polymath. Among the provosts, Pat was our most articulate and eloquent public speaker, consummately persuasive in his defense of the cultivated mind and the role and ability of the colleges in creating it. Perhaps his most enduring contribution to UCSD will be his ability to inspire in all of those around him a firm confidence in the intellectual promise of every UCSD student.”

Peter Preuss, UC Board of Regents:
“Pat Ledden spent over 30 years relentlessly making the University what it is today, while at the same time leaving behind so many friends throughout the community.”

Dan Wulbert, Revelle College Provost.
“Pat Ledden was a champion of the arts, a Ph.D. in mathematics, a subscription member of the opera, and a published expert on James Joyce. He was articulate, erudite, humorous and diplomatic. He was a champion for students and undergraduate education, and his courses had spectacular student approval ratings. He was an advocate of the John Muir College education program, and guided the college to an era of enormous student popularity and satisfaction. Pat wrote with a fountain pen, and spoke with a casual wisdom. He was what we all thought a University professor should be.”

Cecil Lytle, Marshall College Provost and Preuss School founder.
“Pat Ledden became my first friend and model for me as a teacher, gregarious thinker, and as a man. His gentle patrician manner barely disguised his creative passion as a teacher and advocate for the highest standards in learning. I know first hand of the principled compassion that he communicated to students. My daughter was a student at Muir College and visited the Muir Provost’s office to talk with “Dr. Ledden.” He listened to her outrage and enthusiasm with the patience of Job, but never let her walk of his office without sharing his years of experience as a parent and teacher. This was his approach to all of the students who were fortunate and brave enough to seek him out.”

Ann Craig, Eleanor Roosevelt College Provost:
“For me, Pat was a mentor, guide and role model. As a novice provost, he was my mentor, offering clear answers to my questions and unstinting support.His measured response to decisions helped to temper my own. He persuaded me that spare prose is often more powerful. Pat was gifted with the catholic curiosity a University should cultivate, balanced by modest grace. UCSD benefited from his curiosity, easy gift with people, and engagement with the campus in his many roles. Over the past two years, Pat’s hope and courage have been inspiring, and his devotion to Sally has touched us all. He was a gentleman, and a gentle man, and we are all the better for that.”

Susan Kirkpatrick, Muir College professor of literature:
“Pat Ledden’s manifold contributions to UCSD have sprung from his passionate dedication to the life of the mind. In his irrepressible inquisitiveness, his polymathic knowledge and his enthusiasm for dialogue, he modeled the ideals of liberal education for students and colleagues alike. Whether teaching his legendary seminars on James Joyce in the Literature Department, his calculus course in Mathematics, or chatting with Muir College students in honors seminars and lunchtime reading groups, he communicated the pleasures and values of intellectual exchange.”

Gabriele Wienhausen, Sixth College Provost:
“It was not just Pat’s wonderful smile, his encouraging words, and his knowledge about policies and politics that helped me see the forest for the trees during the year and a half that preceded the opening of Sixth College. It was the feeling and the knowledge that he was genuinely interested and concerned, and that he really cared. There were times when life just seemed to be overwhelming. Pat would sense that and he would encourage me to “come and sit down and tell me all about it.” He would listen and help sort everything out and infallibly concerns and worries had lost their power and had become just obstacles that could be overcome.

Pat’s love and passion for art in all its forms and expressions was contagious. I will never forget seeing him at the Opera and confessing that this was not his ‘normal evening’ but that the voice of a particular singer was so extraordinary, so full of strength, richness and color that he and Sally had to come again and again.

Pat was a ‘mensch’ who deeply cared for others, who made all of us feel special, who graciously highlighted our accomplishments and never pointed out how much he contributed to them. Pat loved life and for him it meant to care, to be engaged, and to guide, but also to enjoy and to explore it to the fullest.”


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