Brother Patrick Ellis, 84; was La Salle president

Brother Patrick Ellis
Brother Patrick Ellis
Posted: February 25, 2013

Brother Patrick Ellis, F.S.C., 84, the longest-serving president of La Salle University, died Thursday, Feb. 21, of acute leukemia at a nursing home for Christian Brothers in Lincroft, N.J.

Brother Patrick was president of La Salle from 1977 to 1992, when he left to become president of Catholic University of America in Washington, his alma mater.

He was born Harry James Ellis Jr. on Nov. 17, 1928, in Baltimore. He joined the Institute of the Christian Brothers at 17.

After graduating from Catholic University in 1951, his first assignment was as a teacher and guidance counselor at West Philadelphia Catholic High School, where he later became chair of the English department. Brother Patrick went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1960, he joined the English department at La Salle College, then left in 1962 to become principal of La Salle-Immaculata High School in Miami, which focused on educating the children of Cuban refugees.

Brother Patrick returned to Philadelphia in 1964 and helped to create La Salle's highly regarded honors program. He received a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching the following year, and later served as director of development before beginning his 15-year presidency in 1977.

Brother Patrick's tenure as president was a time of significant growth at La Salle, whose campus nearly doubled in size. Described by the university as a talented and effective fund-raiser, he reorganized the university's development efforts. Under his leadership, La Salle opened Connelly Library, added graduate programs, and built a new residence hall for 250 students, a 500-seat dining hall, a 75-unit townhouse complex, and an all-weather track. La Salle was granted status as a university in 1984.

"La Salle University is what it is today largely because of Brother Patrick's leadership during the late 1970s through the early 1990s," said Brother Michael J. McGinniss, F.S.C., the current president. "People like me, one of his students, will remember his imagination and his ability to coax the best out of us. He will be missed, but his influence will live on."

After leaving Catholic University in 1998, Brother Patrick served as director of development for the Baltimore District of the Christian Brothers until 2004.

There will be three viewings: Tuesday, Feb. 26, from 2 to 4 p.m. at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft, Monmouth County; Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at De La Salle Chapel on the university campus in Philadelphia, which will be followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 8 p.m.; and Thursday, Feb. 28, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at La Salle Hall in Beltsville, Md.

The last viewing will end with a prayer service at 11:30, followed by burial in the Brothers' cemetery.


Contact Kathy Boccella

at kboccella@phillynews.com, 856-779-3812 or follow @kathyboccella on Twitter.

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