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Former Provost Lawrence B. Dumas Dies at Age 67

Dumas looms large in the history of Northwestern, said President Henry S. Bienen.

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November 17, 2008

A Tribute to Former Northwestern University Provost Lawrence B. Dumas

This audio tribute to former Northwestern University Provost Lawrence B. Dumas contains clips recorded at a memorial service held in his honor on Friday, November 21, 2008 at Alice Millar Chapel. Speakers include: Henry S. Bienen, president of Northwestern University; John Margolis, dean and chief executive officer of Northwestern University in Qatar; Daniel Linzer, provost of Northwestern University; and Robert Dumas, son of Lawrence B. and Sally Dumas.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Former Northwestern University Provost Lawrence B. Dumas died today (Nov. 17) at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Hospice.

Mr. Dumas, 67, died after battling a brain tumor for the last year.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday (Nov. 21) at Alice Millar Chapel on the Evanston campus. A reception will follow in the Guild Lounge.

"Larry was an extraordinary man in many ways, and no more so than in his distinguished service to Northwestern," said Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen. "He provided unparalleled leadership and thoughtful guidance to the entire university. He looms large in the history of Northwestern."

Mr. Dumas served as Northwestern University Provost from January 1996 to 2007. In September 2007 he stepped down to begin a leave of absence before returning to active professional life in the department of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology. In recognition of his significant contributions to Northwestern, the University established the Lawrence B. Dumas Distinguished University Professorship.

He was named Provost after serving as dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences from 1988 to 1996. A member of the Northwestern faculty since 1970, Mr. Dumas was named an associate professor in 1975 and professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology in 1980. He was one of the founding members of the department of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology and was chair from 1985 to 1988.

As Provost, Mr. Dumas worked with faculty members, administrators and trustees to develop a strategic plan to guide the University as it moved toward the "highest order of excellence" envisioned by its founders. This initiative had the support of deans of the various schools and an ad hoc faculty group, which identified key issues affecting the University's future. Those efforts resulted in a document entitled "The Highest Order of Excellence," a statement of fundamental goals, priorities and strategies for Northwestern University. The vision expressed in the document built on the recommendations of earlier task force reports on the undergraduate experience, and on graduate education, and outlined an agenda for focusing on four key priorities: (1) Invest in the faculty; (2) Intensify undergraduate learning; (3) Redesign graduate education and strengthen professional education; and (4) Build the infrastructure for teaching, learning and research in the 21st Century. Mr. Dumas worked with a steering committee to oversee the implementation of these plans.

Mr. Dumas also spearheaded planning that resulted in significant new tuition revenues available for initiatives in undergraduate education. He fostered analysis and planning that led to a decision to phase out the Dental School. With the Senior Vice President for Business and Finance and the Associate Vice President for Budget, Mr. Dumas made significant changes in the budget decision-making process of the University.

Mr. Dumas focused his research on molecular studies of chromosomal replication, and his laboratory made significant contributions to the identification and isolation of proteins that catalyze the replication process. His research was funded by the American Cancer Society, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Public Health Service.

Mr. Dumas received the John Boezi Award for Outstanding Molecular Biology Research from Michigan State University (1987) and the U.S. Public Service Career Development Award (1974-79). He was the recipient of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award 1979-80.

Mr. Dumas was a member of the American Society of Biological Chemists, American Society for Microbiology and American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a past member of the medical advisory board of the Leukemia Research Foundation, and he has served on the recombinant DNA safety committee at Abbott Laboratories.

Mr. Dumas received a bachelor's degree with high honors in biochemistry from the Michigan State University Honors College in 1963, a master's degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1965, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Wisconsin in 1968. He was the recipient of a U.S. Public Health Service pre-doctoral fellowship (1964-67) at Wisconsin and a postdoctoral fellowship (1968-70) at the California Institute of Technology.

Mr. Dumas, a resident of Evanston, is survived by his wife, Sally, and two children, Robert Dumas and Aimee Dumas Long, and three grandchildren, Meredith, Natalie and Jackson.

In lieu of flowers, gifts should be made to the Lawrence B. Dumas Distinguished University Professorship, c/o Sarah Pearson, Northwestern University Office of Alumni Relations and Development, 2020 Ridge Ave., Evanston, IL 60208; or to the Northwestern Brain Tumor Institute, Feinberg School of Medicine, c/o Terri Dillon, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr., 9th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611.

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