Former St. Edward’s president Stephen Walsh dies at 69

Brother Stephen Walsh, C.S.C, founder of the Holy Cross Institute and former president of St. Edward’s University, died Jan. 10 after a severe stroke. He was 69.

Walsh was remembered at a funeral service on Jan. 17 at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church in Austin.

Walsh graduated from St. Edward’s University in 1962 as valedictorian with a bachelor’s degree in History. He went on to get his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Austin.

Walsh returned to campus as a faculty member in 1966, was an academic dean in 1970 and served as the university’s youngest president from 1972-1984. He founded the Holy Cross Institute at St. Edward’s in 2005 and acted as executive director until his death.

Under his leadership as president, Walsh initiated the College Assistance Migrant Program and New College program.

“Serving a diverse group of students—with diverse backgrounds and skills—was always a priority and always about social justice,” Walsh said in an interview with St. Edward’s Magazine in 2005.

Walsh is also responsible for the basis of Freshman Studies, Capstone and most of the general education curriculum.

“He was president in a crucial time in our history,” Executive Vice President and Provost Sr. Donna Jurick said. “He’s been at key points the right person to have an innovative thrust that brings things to a new level.”

Walsh’s friend of 56 years and neighbor, Br. Richard Daly, also remembered him as a creative innovator who was always trying to improve education.

“He was always thinking about how teachers could teach students better,” Daly said. “He has had a great impact on Holy Cross and St. Edward’s.”

His former student and fellow Holy Cross Brother, Donald Blauvelt, said he was a mentor, friend and traveling companion.

“He was a brilliant mind,” Blauvelt said. “People were really important to him. He really tried to be what we brothers are supposed to be, a man who brings hope. He always tried to call people to respond at their best.”

Blauvelt said that he and Walsh worked together to “discover what the Holy Cross education was all about.”

“He really brought a focus on the whole person, on the heart and the mind,” Blauvelt said.

As an educator and a leader in Holy Cross, Walsh visited every Holy Cross secondary and middle school to hear the voices of students and faculty. Walsh was a leader in the Holy Cross Congregation and served as a delegate around the world.

“He was internationally known even more than I think he appreciated,” Blauvelt said.

Jurick also commented on his wide range of influence.

“In his last iteration he brought all of the innovation and creativity and history to help the Holy Cross Institute…across the whole world to really come together and understand themselves better,” Jurick said.

Walsh was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award at the 125th Anniversary celebrations last February.

“He was just a wonderful, wonderful person who gave of himself to make everything better,” Jurick said. “This is a huge, huge loss.”