The Edmond Sun

Local News

September 19, 2012

Former UCO President Bill Lillard dead at 87

EDMOND — Former University of Central Oklahoma President Bill Lillard, Ed.D., died Tuesday morning, according to the university. He was 87.

Lillard served as Central’s president for 17 years, from 1975-1992. During his tenure, the university celebrated its centennial, changed its name from Central State University to the University of Central Oklahoma, and expanded the campus with several new classroom buildings and degree programs.

He was inducted into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 1994.

“We are saddened at the news of the passing of one of this university’s great leaders,” said UCO President Don Betz. “This is a tremendous loss not only for Central but also for all of us. President Lillard and his late wife Mary Helen served Central with grace and distinction for 17 years, leaving behind a legacy that will long be remembered in the community and beyond.”  

A native of Wilburton in southeastern Oklahoma, Lillard earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. He went on to earn his master’s and doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.

Lillard worked in the Oklahoma City Public School system for 20 years in various positions, including teacher, counselor, assistant principal, director of educational television and the radio broadcasting center, director of secondary education and assistant superintendent. His time with OKCPS culminated with a nine-year stint as the district superintendent before he took the position as Central’s president.

After his retirement in 1992, then-new UCO President George Nigh named the Administration Building in honor of both Lillard and his wife, Mary Helen, who died last year.

Services currently are pending with Smith and Kernke Funeral Home, 14624 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City.

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