When University at Albany President Kermit L. Hall died while swimming in South Carolina on Sunday, the university and the Capital District lost a leader, a friend and an educator.
At a Monday memorial service held at the university's uptown campus, state, local and university officials remembered the 17th president of the university as a kind, caring, Renaissance man capable of bringing the university to new heights, but most of all, as a man who cared deeply about his students.
George Philip, the chairman of the council that selected the president, said Hall brought to Albany a love of students, something Philip said was the hallmark of Hall's time here.
Hall was a preeminent scholar of American Constitutional, legal and judiciary history. Hall wrote extensively on the development of American federal and state courts. He was appointed by former President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Assassination Records Review Board in 1992 to review and release documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Before coming to Albany, he was the president of Utah State University for four years.
Hall, 61, took office as the university's president Feb. 1, 2005, and, according to speakers at the memorial service and students on campus, he made a profound impact in that short time.
From the first day that Kermit Hall arrived on campus, it was quite evident that he was a huge supporter of students, said Nicholas Chiuchiolo, President of the university's student association. "The quality of student life was of utmost importance to him."
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton said she was in disbelief when told of Hall's death. She said he was a kind, forward-thinking leader and friend.
"He was someone who believed in getting the job done," said Clinton. "He never lost sight of the student experience."