Robert C. LaLance Jr., the longest-serving vice president in Middle Tennessee State University’s history, died Jan. 6 at his Murfreesboro home. He was 72 years old.
LaLance had been ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, since 2010.
He was vice president for student affairs in service to four different MTSU presidents from 1975-1998.
LaLance’s prior posts with the University include dean of students (1970-1975), dean of men (1969-1970), residence hall director (1965-1970), and instructor and assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and director of men’s intramural sports (1963-1969).
MTSU annually presents the Robert C. LaLance Jr. Achievement Award to “a student who has shown remarkable determination, has had to make sacrifices and is contributing to the community during work toward a degree,” according to University literature.
The university’s list of LaLance’s career accomplishments states that he “displayed a unique ability to relate to students, empathize with their concerns and act as an advocate for the quality of student life. From the student unrest of the 1960s and ‘70s to the high-tech savvy of the 1990s, he provided calm, stable and positive leadership in the student affairs area,”
In 1994, LaLance was presented the John Jones Award for Outstanding Performance as a Dean by Region III of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
A native of Huntington, W. Va., he was inducted into the West Virginia University School of Physical Education Hall of Fame in 2005.
LaLance earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from West Virginia University in 1962, a master’s degree in health and physical education from the University of Tennessee in 1963 and a doctorate in physical education from MTSU in 1974.
LaLance is survived by his wife, Martha Lou, his three children, Wendy White (Marty), Chuck (Amy) and Amy Walker (Rusty), eight grandchildren and his brother, Richard (Jan), a retired professor in MTSU’s Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation (now the Department of Health and Human Performance).
A visitation was held Sunday at Woodfin Funeral Chapel in Murfreesboro, and a memorial service was held Monday at First Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church’s Columbarium Fund, the MTSU Foundation or the hospice at Caris Healthcare of Murfreesboro.