Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2017

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Late UNLV president Pat Goodall oversaw rapid growth, expansion of financial resources

After moving from Michigan in 1979, former administrator and professor never left Las Vegas

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Leonard “Pat” Goodall

Leonard “Pat” Goodall went to see the University of Michigan play the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day 1979.

Goodall was chancellor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn at the time, and while on the West Coast with his wife, Lois, he came to Las Vegas, stayed at the Hilton and visited the small-but-growing UNLV campus.

Coincidentally, when he returned to Michigan, a message was waiting for him from the search committee in charge of choosing UNLV’s next president.

That summer, Goodall was named UNLV’s fourth president, and from that point until his death Monday from melanoma that had spread to his lungs and brain, Las Vegas was his home. He was 75.

Leonard Edwin Goodall was born March 16, 1937, in Warrensburg, Mo., the son of Leonard B. Goodall, inventor of the rotary lawnmower, and Pansy Ulea Goodall. He was born right before St. Patrick’s Day, and the childhood nickname “Pat” stuck with him throughout his life.

He attended Central Missouri State University, where he studied social sciences and met his future wife. They married soon after graduation, and Goodall went on to get a master’s degree from the University of Missouri and a doctorate from the University of Illinois.

His first teaching position was at Arizona State University, and despite their initial shock at the high temperatures, Goodall and his wife fell in love with desert living.

“They were very excited about moving back to the desert,” Goodall’s daughter, Karen Crane, said about the family’s 1979 move to Las Vegas from Michigan. “Mom loved the Southwest, and they were excited to get the opportunity to go back. When that opportunity to apply for the UNLV presidency came up, they moved on it. They really loved the Las Vegas community, and they made it their home.”

Goodall was president from 1979 to 1985, overseeing completion of the Thomas & Mack Center and the construction of Beam Hall and Alta Ham Hall. Goodall helped steer the university through the recession of the early 1980s and dealt with the NCAA, which had cited the UNLV men’s basketball program for rules violations in 1977.

He also defended the Flashlight sculpture, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, that was met with much criticism upon its installation in 1981.

“The important fact is that it is there. It puts this campus and this community on the art world’s map,” he said in an address to the university the following year. “It will be a focus of attention, discussion and debate, and that is precisely what makes it such an appropriate part of an academic community.”

After serving as chancellor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Goodall had experience building a newer university finding its niche in a public higher education system. Just as UNLV was the newcomer compared with UNR, Dearborn was in the shadow of the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus.

“My father was really proud of the growth at UNLV and enjoyed watching the university grow from a few small buildings to an urban campus,” Crane said. “He loved the whole startup mentality of taking a smaller or newer university and helping it to develop.”

Yet, none of the new buildings or works of art were on Goodall’s list of top accomplishments.

Goodall was extremely proud of the Marjorie Barrick Lecture Series, a free community event that began during his tenure as president.

“One of his major accomplishments was establishing the UNLV Foundation,” UNLV history professor Eugene Moehring said, referring to the organization that helps raise private funding for the campus. “That really laid the foundation for UNLV to become a major research university. Goodall improved ties with the local business community, especially the Strip businesses.”

Between the completion of the Thomas & Mack Center, which increased per-game ticket sales from 7,000 to 18,000, and the establishment of the UNLV Foundation, Goodall helped stabilize financing for athletics and academics on campus.

Goodall resigned from the presidency in 1985 but taught in the management and public administration department until his retirement in 2000.

“He was always a nice man,” Moehring said. “He was such a gentleman. He was not arrogant. He was a humble guy and basically a good Christian. When he told you something, he told the truth, which you couldn’t say about everybody. He was a good, solid human being.”

Goodall bought his first stock when he was 15 with money from his job as a janitor at his father’s factory. He stayed interested in investment strategies and finance for the remainder of his life, publishing a monthly newsletter, “No-Load Portfolios,” with former UNLV professor William Corney.

Goodall published his ninth book this year. “An Investor’s Memoir: Lessons Learned From Sixty Years in the Stock Market Without One Day on the Sidelines” is half memoir and half investment advice.

In Las Vegas, Goodall was an active member of the Rotary Club and First Presbyterian Church, where he taught Sunday school and served on the board of elders, according to Crane.

“My father was a huge Rebels fan, and you could always spot him in a large red vest at football and basketball games,” she said. “My father loved Rotary, his church and UNLV.”

Goodall combined a love of travel with his interest in investing by traveling the world to give talks on playing the markets. He and Lois visited the Great Wall of China and the Panama Canal and went on an African safari.

Just before Goodall’s condition took a turn for the worse in April, he took his children and most of his grandchildren on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera.

“He valued integrity, honesty and hard work above all else,” Crane said. “He was a very loyal father and friend. The amount of people who have come to help over the last year and a half, especially over the last few weeks, pays tribute to my father and his character.”

Besides Crane, Goodall is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lois; a son, Gregory; another daughter, Karla; and nine grandchildren.

The family requests that any remembrances be made in the form of donations to the UNLV Foundation.

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