Former ULV president dies

Posted April 20, 2007

Dr. Leland B. Newcomer, former president of the University of La Verne and an instrumental figure in many of the university’s important developments, died April 9 at the age of 86.

Dr. Newcomer suffered a heart attack and was rushed to Pomona Valley Hospital, but doctors were unable to revive him.

Lee Newcomer, as he was better known, served as president of then-La Verne College from 1968 to 1976.

In that time, he implemented changes to the undergraduate curriculum, established the January interterm as a part of the academic school year and oversaw the founding of the College of Law.

Current ULV President Stephen Morgan is just one of many in the community who believes the University of today would look much different had Dr. Newcomer not led it during those nine years.

“He had incredible vision for what might take place in the future, particularly in education and, in this case, higher education,” Morgan said.

Arguably the most crucial development that took place during Dr. Newcomer’s presidency was the establishment of the School of Continuing Education, now known as the Regional Campus Administration, under which the CAPA program is operated.

The fact that ULV established its continuing education programs earlier than most other institutions meant La Verne was well positioned to meet the growing demand for adult education, Morgan said.

Dr. Newcomer was also the person who originally hired Morgan and convinced him to become a school administrator.

“He was a very important mentor in my life,” Morgan said. “I kind of owe my career to him.”

The innovative Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion was also constructed during his time here, and is representative of Dr. Newcomer’s presidency.

“In the history of the institution, Dr. Newcomer brought the most change of any president,” said Al Clark, associate vice president of academic affairs.

Dr. Newcomer graduated from La Verne College in 1942 and went on to attend Claremont Graduate University, where he earned his master’s degree.

He obtained his doctorate from the University of Southern California. He made his mark in education by serving in various school districts, including Clark County, Nev., where he was superintendent.

Here in California, he worked in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Grossmont Union High School District and at the Santa Clarita Community College/College of the Canyons.

He continued to assist the academic community after retirement by serving as a consultant to a number of school districts nationwide, and helped hire current dean of the College of Education and Organizational Leadership, Leonard Pellicer.

Dr. Newcomer spent his last eight years of life in La Verne, as a resident of the Hillcrest Homes retirement community.

He is survived by his wife Mae, and his children Joel, Dick, Julie and Bill.

Tom Anderson can be reached at
Cindy Lopez can be reached at

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