Tribute to Dr. James H. Wharton

James H. Wharton

James (Jim) H. Wharton died on May 22, 2021 at the age of 83. He was born just outside of Mangum, Oklahoma. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan McPherson Wharton. Jim earned his Ph.D. in chemical physics from LSU in 1962, and then served as an Assistant Professor of chemistry. His career was primarily spent within the LSU system, other than a period in the Ordinance Corp of the U.S. Army where he was assigned to the Marshall Space Flight Center to work on the Saturn V Moon Landing Program for NASA. Returning to LSU in 1965 as an Assistant Professor, he was promoted to Associate Dean of the College of Chemistry and Physics, then to the Deanship of the Junior Division. He became Dean of the General College responsible for The Junior Division, University College, the Admissions Office, the Registrars Office, Student Aid and High School Relations, then Chancellor of LSU in Alexandria. In 1981 he was selected to be Chancellor of Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College and served as Chancellor until 1989. He then taught Chemistry from 1990 through May of 2008 when he fully retired from the University. During the eight-year tenure as LSU’s third Chancellor, he steered the state’s flagship institution of higher learning to unprecedented progress, managing to make major improvements in the quality of the University’s faculty and students, its academic standards, its private fundraising programs and research efforts. The hallmark of his administration was the Quality Trust Program, designed to upgrade instruction and research and to maintain LSU’s statewide “flagship” status as Louisiana’s premier, comprehensive university. He was also an active volunteer for the state and University. He served as Chairman of the committee which oversaw the implementation of federal and state laws providing for the appropriate education of all handicapped children; handled the political, economic and contractual issues required to bring the LASER Interferometer Gravity-Wave Observatory to Louisiana; served as Chair of the scientific team advising the state on the proper disposal of oilfield waste; served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on 8-G expenditures for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; served as Chairman of the Capital Construction Committee for renovations and additions to the University Laboratory School; and served as a consultant to the state on desegregation. In the early years, he worked with Patrick F. Taylor as a volunteer on the TOPS program and later served as a consultant to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor on access to higher education and was a Board member of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. He was named the LSU Alumnus of the Year for 2005 and received commendations for his service to the State and University from the Louisiana Senate, the Louisiana House of Representatives and in a proclamation by the Governor.