Irving Shain, a former UW-Madison chancellor, administrator and chemistry professor, died Tuesday. He was 92.
Shain died after a brief illness, said Paul Shain, one of his sons.
UW-Madison’s chancellor from 1977 to 1986, Shain was responsible for helping establish a veterinary school and the University Research Park business incubator and for starting a student exchange program with China in 1979.
“My dad’s legacy is really tied to UW,” Paul Shain said. “He really recognized the value of education and devoted his career to helping make that accessible to the citizens to Wisconsin.”
A chemistry research building and an endowed chair in chemistry that supports research programs in the department are named after Shain.
Shain came to UW-Madison to teach in 1952 after earning a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Washington. Before that, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
He also chaired UW-Madison’s chemistry department from 1967 to 1970 and became vice chancellor for academic affairs in 1970. He left the university to become an administrator at the University of Washington in 1975 before returning to Madison to become chancellor.
At a dedication for the Shain Research Tower in 2006, then-Chancellor John Wiley said Shain — even in retirement — was “one of the most consistently influential figures in the history of the University of Wisconsin.”
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who worked with Shain on the Board of Trustees of University Research Park, said he made campus better in many ways.
“Irv was always smart and strategic, while also having a wry sense of humor,” Blank said. “His impact on this university is visible more than 30 years after he left.”
As a chemist, Shain was a respected scholar and researcher in the field of electrochemistry.
“He was a scientist at heart. He knew the value of science and research,” Paul Shain said.
Shain also embraced the arts and humanities, endowing two student competitions at the School of Music.
Students, faculty members and administrators knew Shain as a trusted mentor.
“He was a mentor to me and so many other faculty and administrators,” said Bassam Shakhashiri, a professor of chemistry at UW-Madison who was hired by Shain in 1970. “His influence transcends the chemistry department and UW-Madison.”
After retiring from UW-Madison in 1986, Shain worked at the Olin Corp. as corporate vice president and chief scientist until 1992.
Paul Shain said his father then traveled across the world with his wife before settling back in Madison.
Shain’s wife, Millie, died in 2015. They had four children and three grandchildren.
A public gathering to remember Shain will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at Cress Funeral Home, 6021 University Ave.