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Vincennes University Remembers Long-Serving President

Phillip Summers, 74, passed away Sunday. He was president of Vincennes University for two decades, but his impact was felt for even longer -- and that's something that's not going to change. Summers is survived by this wife of 53 years, Pat, along with three daughters and four grandsons. Arrangements are pending at Gardner-Brockman Funeral Home in Vincennes.
The Vincennes University community is remembering the life of a long-serving former president.  Phillip Summers passed away Sunday night at the age of 74.

Phillip Summers was president of Vincennes University for two decades, but his impact was felt for even longer -- and that's something that's not going to change.

It can be hard to sum up the life of influential man, especially when his own actions speak volumes:

"When I sat down with him for the very first time, he said that he was there to help me be successful in my new role. And that really meant a lot to me, to have someone with his stature and his legacy to say that," recalls Chuck Johnson, Provost of Vincennes University.

That's just the kind of life Phillip Summers led for 74 years.

The Washington, Indiana native dedicated his life to higher education.  He studied at Vincennes University, before joining the faculty there in 1965.

"He clearly was giving back to this part of the country that he loved so much," said Johnson. "And I think that's really a big part of the legacy."

He became president in1980, ushering in a 21-year era of growth and rejuvenation.

Under Summers' steady hand, the school saw $75 million worth of campus construction and expansion, the development of VU programs across the state, and new outreach initiatives.

"I think if you met Dr. Summers, it was immediately apparent that he bled blue and gold. He was a person that really believed in the power of this campus," said Johnson.
   
Summers retired from the president's office in 2001, but his heart never left the classroom - he continued teaching until the end... in the very building that bears his name.

"Psychology 142," said Johnson. "He was very beloved by students both in and out of the classroom."

Summers also chaired the board that just this past July, opened the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy.

That's in addition to his time spent as president of the United Way, the Heart Association, Chamber of Commerce and Community Foundation - truly leaving behind a lasting legacy.

"Dr. Summers was certainly a pivotal person in the history of Vincennes University," said Johnson.

Summers is survived by this wife of 53 years, Pat, along with three daughters and four grandsons.

Arrangements are pending at Gardner-Brockman Funeral Home in Vincennes.

You can leave an online condolence here.
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