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Subject: Edward Mortola, 85, Oversaw Expansion at Pace

New York
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Date Posted: October 29, 2002 3:24:03 EDT

Dr. Edward Joseph Mortola, who presided as Pace grew from a small downtown Manhattan business school into one of the country's largest independent universities, died on Oct. 21 at his home in Rye, N.Y. He was 85.

Dr. Mortola spent nearly his entire career at Pace. He joined Pace Institute as assistant dean in 1947 and was named president of Pace College in 1960, at the onset of a period of robust physical and academic growth.

He oversaw the opening of new campuses and the emergence of a fully accredited Pace University in 1973. He became chancellor in 1984, reached emeritus status three years later, on his 70th birthday, and remained a university trustee until his death.

The brothers Homer and Charles Pace borrowed $600 to start Pace School for Accountancy in 1906, which had a class of 13. In 1936 it was chartered to prepare students for certified public accountant examinations.

"When I came to Pace in 1947, I saw as my objective the need to develop a broad base," Dr. Mortola said. With Homer Pace's son Robert, who was president at the time, he promptly widened the school's horizons geographically and academically.

At the time, Pace Institute had about 5,600 students at its Park Row site in Lower Manhattan. Edward Mortola became dean in 1949 and provost a year later, when the first six liberal arts students were accepted. He rose to vice president in 1954 and became the college's third president in 1960.

Under Dr. Mortola, Pace added campuses in New York City and Westchester County. Enrollment grew to more than 30,000 students, both full-time and part-time. It started early-bird classes before office hours and a center for active retirees.

A civic center was built on the original Park Row site in 1970 and a campus at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street was added for people working in Midtown. Westchester County campuses were opened in the 60's and 70's in Pleasantville, White Plains and Briarcliff Manor.

Edward Mortola, a native New Yorker, graduated from Fordham University in 1938 with a degree in mathematics. He received an M.A. in administration at Fordham in 1941 and a Ph.D. in education in 1946.

Before starting at Pace, he worked as an assistant registrar at Fordham and as a mathematics instructor at Cooper Union. He rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy in World War II, serving in the United States.

Dr. Mortola is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dr. Doris Slater Mortola, a clinical psychologist; two daughters, Doreen Mortola LeMoult of Darien, Conn., and Elaine Mortola-Clark of Rye; a brother, Albert, of Freehold, N.J.; and five grandsons.

It was while he was an assistant registrar at Fordham that Dr. Mortola heard that Pace, up the street, was looking for an assistant dean. He recalled seeking the advice of the Rev. Robert I. Gannon, the president of Fordham, a Jesuit institution:

"He said, `Unless you turn your collar around, you'll never become president of Fordham, but you might at Pace.' "

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