Former Eastern President Stanley G. Rives died Wednesday at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center at the age of 89.
Rives served as Eastern’s sixth president from 1983 to 1992.
Rives was born in Assumption, Illinois on Sept. 27, 1930 to James and Frances (Bunker) and attended public school in Peoria, Illinois.
Rives married Sandra Lou Belt in 1957 in Granite City, Illinois, who preceded him in death on Feb. 25, 2015.
The couple had two children, Jackie Rives of Kofu, Japan and Joseph (Scott Brouette) Rives of Moline, Illinois.
Rives received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Speech Communication from Illinois State University and later his Ph. D. in Speech Communication from Northwestern University, according to University Archives.
Rives came to Eastern in January 1981 as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. In July 1983 Rives became acting president and became sitting president in October 1983.
During his nine years are president Rives saw his fair share of controversies and triumphs.
One controversy Rives experienced was the building of Greek Court.
At the time the university was planning to build the set of houses several members of Greek life said they would not be interested in moving their chapter houses onto campus.
A survey reported by The Daily Eastern News in 1988 found that of 60 individuals in Greek life, only seven favored the creation of Greek Court.
Former Eastern President Lou Hencken, who served as Housing Director, then interim Vice President of Academic Affairs during Rives’ presidency said Rives wanted to build Greek Court after a having dinner at a fraternity house.
“He went to eat one time at a fraternity house and he came back and said ‘I’m really concerned because if that house would ever catch on fire, I didn’t see a lot of safety precautions for the students,’” Hencken said.
Hencken said he and Rives fought for the best version of Greek Court they thought there could be.
“The first design that came back was that the officers would have their own rooms and the rest of them would sleep like 12 to 15 in a common area, and I was really upset,” Hencken said.
Hencken said Rives fought alongside him to find what the best option for students would be until they felt comfortable with how the houses would be built.
“He was concerned about that and I think that was because he was always concerned about student safety.”
Hencken said he felt the building of Greek Court and the Rec Center were examples of how much Rives cared for students at Eastern.
“He cared very much about the university,” Hencken said.
Hencken said he was also impressed with Rives passion for undergraduate education.
“He appointed a committee, which was basically a study of undergraduate education, and he wanted to improve undergraduate education at the university,” Hencken said.
Another thing Hencken said he liked about Rives was that he always advocated for Eastern at Board of Governors meetings.
“He kept making sure that Eastern got it’s fair shake. Sometimes he irritated people on the governing board because of the fact he was Eastern Illinois first,” Hencken said. “He stood up for Eastern. He cared about Eastern. He cared very, very much about Eastern.”
Beyond his time at Eastern Rives was also a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War and member of the First Presbyterian Church of Charleston.
A memorial serivice will be scheduled for the spring.
Memorials may be directed to the Stan and Sandy Rives Excellence in Undergraduate Education Awards through the Eastern Illinois University or Illinois State University Foundation or by volunteering at an organization of the person’s choosing.
Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]