Dr. Edward J. Mortola, Chancellor Emeritus And Former President of Pace University, dies at age 85
NEW YORK (Oct. 23, 2002) – Edward J. Mortola of Rye, N.Y., Chancellor Emeritus and Former President of Pace University, died October 21 after a long illness. He was 85.
Arriving at Pace Institute in 1947 when it was primarily known for accounting and business education, Dr. Mortola led such early initiatives as the introduction of the liberal arts degree programs in 1950 and the subsequent establishment of a series of professional schools in nursing (’66), education (’67), continuing education (’67), and law (’76). Dr. Mortola served as president of Pace from 1960 until 1984, when he was named chancellor. He remained chief executive officer of Pace until February 1987, when, upon reaching his 70th birthday, his responsibilities were transferred to William G. Sharwell. At the time of his death he was a member of the University’s board of trustees and held the title of Chairman Emeritus.
Dr. Mortola joined Pace Institute as assistant dean in 1947, became dean in 1949, provost in 1950, and vice president in 1954. He was inaugurated the University’s third president in 1960 and went on to lead Pace during its greatest period of academic and physical expansion, vastly increasing the School’s size and scope. Shortly after his arrival, the school had 5,651 students on one campus in lower Manhattan; by the end of his active leadership in 1987, more than 30,000 men and women were attending Pace University on campuses in New York City and Westchester County as degree and non-degree seeking learners.
Management expert Peter Drucker discussed the Pace style of management in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship, published in 1986. Drucker said, “Dr. Edward J. Mortola built up the institution from nothing in 1947 into New York City’s third-largest and fastest growing university…In the university’s early years he was a radical innovator. But when Pace was still very small (around 1950), Mortola built a strong top management team. All members were given a major, clearly defined responsibility, for which they were expected to take full accountability and give leadership.”
During a 1986 interview for the University’s alumni publication Dr. Mortola said of his tenure at Pace: “The job has never failed to be thoroughly enjoyable; indeed, it has been fun. The constant change, growth and development of the University and its people have provided the stimulus to devote my life fully to Pace. These have been good years at Pace and good years for me, as I have seen so many staff, faculty and alumni chalk up such remarkable achievements.”
The Mortola Years at Pace:
Campuses were established in Westchester County – in Pleasantville in 1963, White Plains in 1975, and Briarcliff in 1978. In 1970, a $20 million Civic Center campus was built on the site of Pace’s first location on Park Row in lower Manhattan, across the street from City Hall. A midtown Center on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street was opened in 1976 to serve corporations and business professionals in that area. University status was granted Pace College in 1973.
Enrollment grew from 5,000 to 30,000 students, positioning Pace as the second largest independent university in New York, and among the 10 largest independent universities in the nation.
Biographical Information about Edward J. Mortola:
Born in New York City in 1917, Dr. Mortola was educated at Fordham University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1938, majoring in mathematics; a master’s degree in education in 1941; and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration in 1946. He holds honorary degrees from Fordham (L.H.D., 1964), Bryant College (LL.D., 1965), Syracuse University (LL.D., 1967), Manhattan College (Litt.D., 1967), New York Law School (LL.D., 1968), The College of St. Rose (Litt.D., 1971), Medaille College (L.H.D., 1980), Western State University (LL.D., 1985), and Pace University (L.H.D., 1987).
During World War II, Dr. Mortola entered the U.S. Navy as an Ensign and taught at the Midshipman’s School at Columbia University. He also served in the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C., and during his last year of service, was director of the Registration Division of the U.S. Armed Forces Institute in Madison, Wis. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander before returning to civilian life.
Civic and Professional Life:
Dr. Mortola was highly active in the civic, cultural and economic life of New York. He served as director of the New York Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Economic Development Council, Development Committee of Westchester Medical Center, Inc., the International Center for the Disabled and the Westchester County Association. He also served as chairman of the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education; founding member and member of the executive committee of the Moroccan-American Foundation; a trustee of St. Joseph’s Seminary, and of Franklin College, Switzerland; trustee of The College of New Rochelle and Rosemont College, Pennsylvania. He was a Chairman of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of the State of New York, a member and former president of the Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York; a member of the Commissioner’s Advisory Council on Higher Education, and a director of the New York City Council on Economic Education.
In 1980, Dr. Mortola was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the National Advisory Council on Adult Education, and in 1984, he was appointed to the National Institute of Social Sciences.
Honors and Awards:
1964 Columbia Association of the Board of Education of N.Y.C.
Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Field of Education
1964 Cardinal Newman Foundation of N.Y. Scholarship Committee William O’Brien Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education
1970 Fordham University School of Education Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award
1973 Westchester Community College Foundation Medallion for Outstanding Service in the Field of Education
1975 B’nai B’rith Youth Services “Man of the Year” Award, Westchester-Putnam counties
1976 Fordham University School of Education Alumni Association Kathryn I. Scanlon Award
1977 Westchester Region National Conference of Christians and Jews Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Brotherhood
1980 American Society of Public Administration Distinguished Service Award, Lower Hudson Valley Chapter
1983 Annual Gold Medal Award, the 100 Year Association of N.Y., Inc.
1985 Elizabeth Seton College Medal
1986 Knight of the Order of Malta
1986 Leadership in Education Award from the Association of the Colleges and Universities of NY State
1987 Big Brothers of New York Education Award
1987 Pace University’s Leader in Management Award
1988 Educational Excellence Award, Phi Delta Kappa
1990 Family of the Year Award, Family Service of Westchester
Dr. Mortola was a member of the Metropolitan Club, the Larchmont Yacht Club, and the University Club of New York City.
Dr. Mortola served on the Board of Directors of Lincoln Center, Bank of New York, New York Telephone Co., J.C. Penney Co., and National Reinsurance Co.
Dr. Edward J. Mortola is survived by his wife, Dr. Doris Slater Mortola of Rye, New York, and two daughters, Doreen Mortola LeMoult of Darien, Connecticut, and Elaine Mortola-Clark of Rye, New York; and 5 grandsons, Eric and Craig LeMoult and Evan, Jamison, and Edward Clark.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be said on Friday, October 25 at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, NY. Calling hours at the Graham Funeral Home in Rye will be Thursday, October 24, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.