James M. Shuart, the beloved ex-president of Hofstra University who oversaw a dramatic expansion of the venerable private college, died Friday, the university said.

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News of Shuart’s death was announced by his successor, Stuart Rabinowitz, who called Shuart a “friend and mentor” and credited him for raising enrollment and for more than doubling the size of the Hempstead campus over his 25 years as president.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to succeed someone whose stewardship helped make Hofstra a world-class university,” Rabinowitz said in a statement. “His grace and generosity of spirit serves as an example of the true meaning of Hofstra Pride.”

Shuart served as president from 1976-2001. But his love affair with Hofstra began much earlier: earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the university in 1953 and 1962, respectively.

Shuart, a tenacious student, moved on to New York University, where he earned a doctor of philosophy in 1966. But Shuart never truly left Hofstra’s campus. In 1959, Shuart was hired as an admissions officer and and earned several promotions before becoming Hofstra’s seventh president.

Shuart also felt the pull of public service. He spent three years as Nassau County Commissioner of Public Services in the early ‘70s and later served as deputy Nassau County Executive. His next post, overseeing Nassau’s Commission on Priorities, provided great insight into demographics trends and its impact on higher education.

But his greatest accomplishment was Hofstra’s impressive expansion during the course of his presidency. With Shuart at the helm, Hofstra saw a rise in enrollment and degree programs, the university said. That period also brought more prestige to Hofstra athletics, which garnered Division I status. The campus itself doubled in size, new facilities were built and the School of Communication, now the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, was born.

Shuart also solidified Hofstra’s reputation globally when its presidential conferences drew international praise. Shuart’s love for the campus is something that those who knew him personally will never forget.

“His legacy can be seen in the tens of thousands of trees and tulips planted during his tenure–an effort that has turned our campus into a leafy oasis and led to it becoming a nationally recognized arboretum,” Rabinowtiz said.

Hofstra’s on-campus stadium, which hosts collegiate competitions and is home to North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos, is emblazoned with Shuart’s name.

All of Hofstra’s flags will fly at half-staff and a moment of silence will be observed during upcoming commencement ceremonies, the university said.

(Featured photo credit: Hofstra University)

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