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Max Lucas, former dean of School of Architecture & Urban Design, dies

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

LAWRENCE — William Maxwell "Max" Lucas, retired dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Design, died Sept. 4 at his home in Lawrence.

"On behalf of the entire University of Kansas community, I offer my sincere condolences to Professor Lucas’s family, friends and colleagues,” Gray-Little said. “My thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”

Current Dean Mahesh Daas also offered his condolences.

“In my frequent meetings with alumni, Max is always remembered for his vision,” he said. “He was a renaissance man, an architectural engineer who worked with architects and urban designers with ease. That ability helped us become the interdisciplinary school that we are today.

“He influenced us in many ways. He was instrumental in launching the school into the digital age through his advocacy of computer-aided design. His establishment of study abroad programs in the school led to the tremendous global reach we presently have, and that sets our program above many others.”

Lucas earned his bachelor's and master’s degrees in architectural engineering from KU in 1957 and 1962.

He began his academic career at KU in 1962 as an assistant professor of architecture, and he became full professor in 1971 after receiving a doctorate in engineering from Oklahoma State University.

He worked as an assistant to Chancellor Archie Dykes from 1974 to 1976, and he became the first director of KU’s Facilities and Planning Department from 1976 to 1978. He served as the dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Design from 1981 to 1994.

“In my opinion, his greatest legacy was the exponential growth of foreign-study opportunities in the architecture program when he was dean in the 1980s and early 1990s," said Kent Spreckelmeyer, architecture professor.

Lucas was on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1957 until 1960, when he joined the U.S. Navy Reserves, retiring in 1985 as a captain.

“During the late 1960s, there was major unrest on the campus related to the Vietnam War,” said Architecture Lecturer Frank Zilm, who was a student at the time. “Max was one of the rare individuals who could balance his personal military background with the protest challenges that were confronting leadership.” 

“He demonstrated an open, reasonable ability to deal with the realities of the situation and work with those he did not agree with to reach solutions — a lesson outside the classroom that I never forgot,” Zilm said.  

“You will never find a KU alum more dedicated to the institution or proud to be called a Jayhawk,” Spreckelmeyer said. “He spent his entire adult life making the university and the school better places.”

A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, at Plymouth Congregational Church.




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