May 24-June 6, 2002
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In Memoriam

A.Vincent Shea dead at 90

By Robert Brickhouse

Longtime administrator and faculty member A. Vincent Shea, 90, revered for his distinguished service to the University, died May 18 at his residence at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge after a long illness.

Shea served as U.Va.’s chief financial officer from 1947-77, and from 1964, he held the rank of professor, and later professor emeritus, in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs.

A native of Richmond, Shea earned his bachelor’s degree in 1934 and master’s degree in 1935 from U.Va. He pursued further graduate work in public administration at the University of Chicago and Stanford University. He joined the U.Va. faculty in 1936 as a member of the Bureau of Public Administration.

Shea returned to U.Va. after distinguished service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. During the late 1940s and the 1950s, he simultaneously held three major administrative posts: bursar from 1947-53, assistant to President Colgate W. Darden from 1947-59, and secretary to the Board of Visitors from 1947-54, when he was appointed comptroller. Shea was named vice president for business and finance in 1970 when U.Va. established vice presidencies for those heading the major administrative divisions.

At other times in his career, he served as chair of the Woodrow Wilson Department of Government and Foreign Affairs and secretary of the Alumni Board of Trustees. He retired from the vice presidency in 1977 and returned to full-time teaching, from which he retired in 1982.

In 1960, students recognized his contributions by bestowing him with the Raven Award. In 1974, he received U.Va.’s highest faculty honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, for his dedication to the University’s financial stability and growth, particularly his efforts to raise the level of faculty salaries. At his death, it was revealed that he was a member of the Seven Society.

A very private man, he worked tirelessly for the general well-being of the University, most often in ways that only a few were aware of. He was a trusted adviser, beyond what his titles implied, to three presidents of the University, even in retirement, and a succession of rectors relied heavily on his counsel. Shea and his wife, the late Eleanor Gray Shea, were quiet benefactors of the University.

“Mr. Shea knew the University and cared about it. He understood what it could be and he did everything he could to help it achieve its potential,” said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “When he made a decision, there was only one question in his mind — what was best for the long-term interests of the University?”

Shea was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership society, and Beta Gamma Sigma, the national honorary society for commerce and business administration. He served as president of the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers in 1960 and was on the board of directors of the National Association of College and University Business Officers from 1965-68.

As a testament to his devotion to U.Va., Shea provided for the creation of a professorship in mathematics in the Curry School of Education. It is to be named for his father-in-law, Samuel Braley Gray.

Shea’s wife, Eleanor Gray Shea, preceded him in death.

There will be a memorial celebration at the University at a date to be announced.

 


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