Dr. Walt Griffin, a longtime Upper Iowa University faculty member and administrator, died Monday, October 18, at Spartanburg Medical Center in South Carolina.
Most of Griffin’s teaching and administrative experience was gained at UIU. In addition to serving as a professor of American history for 23 years, Griffin was chairman of the History Department of the Division of Social Sciences and Business Administration, faculty chairman, acting vice president for academic affairs, and director of off-campus programs. He also coached men’s and women’s college tennis for eight years. In 1985, he was voted the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year. Griffin also served as a city councilman, Fayette County Democrats chair, and as the manager of a U.S. congressional campaign.
“Walt was an extraordinary history teacher, probably because he was such a good storyteller,” retired UIU Bissel Professor of English Doug McReynolds said. “However, his greatest contribution to the institution of Upper Iowa was his embrasure of the concept of extended education. It was Walt who almost single handedly nurtured, sold, and ultimately set in motion UIU’s concept of off campus locations. In fact, when the University was in the process of opening their first center locations in Waterloo and Mason City, Walt located the classroom spaces, contracted the faculty, and even helped register the students and sold textbooks out of the trunk of his car.”
In addition to its main Fayette Campus, UIU now offers higher education at over 20 locations in nine states.
Griffin retired in 2017, after 25 years as president of Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina. Immediately prior to coming to Limestone, Griffin was director of the Cincinnati Center for the College of Undergraduate Studies of The Union Institute.
“It is certainly a sad day for Limestone’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni,” said Limestone President Dr. Darrell Parker. “Dr. Griffin leaves a legacy of devoted service to higher education, and we owe him a tremendous amount of appreciation for his vision, commitment, and dedication to Limestone. While he will be greatly missed, we also celebrate his enormous contributions to the Saints family.”
Under Griffin’s leadership, Limestone launched multiple capital campaigns and established many new academic programs to boost enrollment and restore financial stability. When he arrived at Limestone, enrollment numbers were dwindling, and buildings were deteriorating. Griffin is remembered for his efforts to get the institution on solid footing and then starting a path to growth, strength, and renewal.
(Editor’s note: Portions of this article were republished with the permission of Charles Wyatt and Limestone University)