Thomas Melady, President Emeritus, Dies

News Story: January 8, 2014

Former President
Thomas Melady in 1980

The Sacred Heart University community is mourning the passing of President Emeritus Thomas Patrick Melady, who served as the University’s president from 1976 to 1986. Melady passed away on January 6 at the age of 86.

“The passing of Thomas Melady brings great sadness to me personally and to the entire Sacred Heart community. I have known Tom for more than 25 years, including as a Board of Trustees member during his tenure as president. He was a forward-thinking visionary who led Sacred Heart as it emerged from a local commuter school to an acclaimed regional university,” said Sacred Heart University President John J. Petillo. “His impact continues to be evident in Sacred Heart’s current success as well as in its reputation as a caring, inclusive community where all are treated with respect and dignity.”

Melady served as an American ambassador under three presidents and as a sub-cabinet officer for a fourth and remained active in foreign affairs and international relations throughout his career. Since 2002, he had served as senior diplomat in residence at The Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C.

After his graduation from high school he served in the U.S. Army from 1945–1947, then graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University in 1950 and went on to earn a master’s and doctorate from The Catholic University of America. He taught at St. John’s, Fordham University and George Washington University during his career.

A former consultant for the National Urban League in New York and chairman of Seton Hall University, he was appointed by President Richard M. Nixon as ambassador to Burundi in 1969, senior adviser to the U.S. delegation to the UN General Assembly in 1970 and ambassador to Uganda from 1972 to 1973. In 1989, he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as ambassador to the Holy See. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as assistant secretary for Post-secondary Education.

Melady was an authority on Afro-Asian and Central European Affairs. He is the author of 16 books and hundreds of articles. He has received honorary doctorates from 30 universities and been honored by six countries.

Among his survivors are his wife, Margaret, and two children.

Sacred Heart will hold a memorial mass for Dr. Melady on Wednesday, January 29, at 2 p.m. in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.