Robert W. MacVicar

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Robert William MacVicar (1918–1998) was a professor of chemistry, the Chancellor of Southern Illinois University, and the President of Oregon State University between 1970 and 1984.


Early years[edit]

Robert W. MacVicar was born in Princeton, Minnesota on September 28, 1918.

Academic career[edit]

MacVicar was a student of chemistry at the University of Wyoming, graduating from there in 1939.[1] Upon graduation, MacVicar was awarded a Rhodes scholarship, but it proved impossible for him to attend due to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.[1]

Instead, MacVicar enrolled and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where he continued his chemistry studies.[1] MacVicar obtained his Master of Science in 1940 from Oklahoma State, authoring a thesis entitled "The Effect of Adrenaline Injections on the Chloride and Phosphorus Distribution of the Blood" en route to obtaining his degree.[2]

MacVicar spent the duration of the war as an officer in the United States Army.[3] He left military service as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps.[4]

Following the conclusion of the war, MacVicar moved to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison, from which he obtained a PhD in biochemistry in 1946.[1] MacVicar's dissertation was entitled "The Boron Metabolism of Plants" and included material which he had been able to publish in the American Potato Journal and Botanical Gazette.[5]

With degree in hand, MacVicar returned to Stillwater to take a position as an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Chemistry Research and Chemistry, later gaining promotion to a full professorship.[1] He remained at Oklahoma State until 1964.[1]

Administrative career[edit]

Concurrently with his professorship at Oklahoma State, MacVicar became involved in school administration, taking on the role of Dean of the Graduate School in 1953.[1] He continued to serve in that capacity until his departure from Stillwater in 1964.[1] From 1957 he also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs.[1]

In 1968, MacVicar was named Chancellor of Southern Illinois University, located in the town of Carbondale in the state's downstate coal mining country.[1] MacVicar remained there until 1970, when he came west to Corvallis, Oregon to assume a post as the 15th President of Oregon State University.[1]

MacVicar remained as head of Oregon State until his retirement in 1984, during which time the campus was expanded with the addition of 23 new buildings.[6] Under MacVicar's watch the total number of faculty at OSU expanded from 1,766 to 2,247, while the school's budget tripled.[7]

After his retirement, he was named Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and President Emeritus, Special Assistant to the Chancellor. He also served as Acting President of the College of Ganado, a small college in Arizona, for seven months in 1985.[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

Following his retirement, MacVicar was awarded the title Professor Emeritus of Chemistry as well as President Emeritus and Special Assistant to the Chancellor.[1] MacVicar remained active in the Corvallis community and put his networking skills to use establishing a fund-raising program on behalf of the College of Ganado, located on a Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona.[7]

Robert MacVicar died on December 26, 1998. He was 80 years old at the time of his death.[9]

Over the course of his career, MacVicar published over 135 papers, reports and articles.[3] His papers are held by Oregon State University Archives in Corvallis.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Guide to the Robert W. MacVicar Papers 1942-1995," Oregon State University Library, Corvallis, OR.
  2. ^ Robert William MacVicar, "The Effect of Adrenaline Injections on the Chloride and Phosphorus Distribution of the Blood," Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, 1940. OCLC WorldCat number 31458545.
  3. ^ a b "Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award: Dr. Robert W. MacVicar, Former President, Oregon State University," Oklahoma State University Library,
  4. ^ "Military Officers Club of Corvallis," Benton County foundation,
  5. ^ Rober W. MacVicar, "The Boron Metabolism of Plants," University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1946. OCLC WorldCat number 56947856.
  6. ^ "Robert MacVicar and Nat Giustina," Oregon State University Archives,
  7. ^ a b [ "Robert Macvicar, Ex-OSU President,"] Seattle Times, December 28, 1998.
  8. ^ "Guide to the Robert W. MacVicar Papers 1942-1995". 1918-09-28. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 
  9. ^ "Robert William MacVicar, President 1970-1984," Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, OR.


  • Feeding Trials with Mineral and Protein Supplements for Two-and Three-Year-Old Steers Wintering on Dry Grass. With Oscar Burr Ross and D.F. Stephens. Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, 1950.
  • Science is Everybody's Business. Oklahoma City, OK: United Founders Life Insurance Co., n.d. [1960].
  • Vitamin A Studies with Beef Cattle: A Summary of Experimental Studies Conducted at Oklahoma State University, 1946-1959. With L.S. Pope and Frank H. Baker. Stillwater, OK: Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station, 1961.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
James Herbert Jensen
President of Oregon State University
Succeeded by
John V. Byrne