This summer I produced and directed a program for Clayco, a major design-build firm headquartered in St. Louis. Clayco has worked with Washington University in St. Louis for years; the program celebrated several of the outstanding buildings they have created together.

As part of the project, we interviewed Dean James McLeod, a man I’ve known for nearly twenty years.

Dean McLeod hired me that long ago to direct a video for the John B. Ervin Scholars Program. This nationally eminent program began as an effort to foster a diverse educational environment on the WU campus. Over the years the scholars were consistently challenged to lead and to commit to an ethic of service. I produced many programs for the Ervin Scholars. More than once I heard Jim quote Dr. Ervin to the incoming scholars: “To whom much is given, much is required.”

Like Dr. Ervin, Jim always gave of himself with intelligence and compassion. He touched the lives of thousands of students—including my own two sons.

The university recognized his contributions by creating the McLeod Scholars Program, an undergraduate scholarship endowment. In May of this year three students were named as inaugural McLeod Scholars.

I am so sad to report that Chancellor Wrighton has just informed the Washington University community that James Earl McLeod passed away this afternoon.

The news is devastating.

Yet I know that his legacy will live on.

After our interview in June, Jim laughed and wrapped things up by saying, “It’s time for me to go.” And then this charming, gracious man picked up his black umbrella and headed out into the rain. Off he walked in the direction of Brookings Hall. An essential image of Jim McLeod.

About the Author

Lori Dowd

Lori Dowd is an award-winning filmmaker and founder of StoryTrack Studio. For over 20 years, she has directed and produced programming for a range of corporate, non-profit, online and broadcast partner/client.