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Former APSU President Robert Riggs dies at 79

Riggs
President Robert Riggs

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On March 25, Austin Peay State University lost an important member of the University community – former President Robert O. Riggs. Riggs, 79, served as the University’s fourth president, from 1976-1987.

“While our paths never crossed, the effects of his presidency will forever impact our great University,” APSU President Mike Licari said. “Please join me in thoughts and prayers for Dr. Riggs and his family.”

Riggs began his career at Austin Peay as the youngest president in the history of the University, starting at the age of 34, a record that remains to this day. Although young, Riggs entered his presidency with clear goals — develop quality academic programs, create social situations on campus where students can develop loyalty to the institution, and have a beautiful campus with attractive publications and winning athletic programs.

In the years following his start as president, headcount enrollment grew 23 percent. Riggs was also instrumental in forming what is now known as the Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell, nearly tripling enrollment at Fort Campbell in seven years.

In 1980, Riggs implemented a landscaping project that had a significant impact on the atmosphere of the campus. One of the primary features of the plan included a bronze sculpture in honor of the late Gov. Austin Peay. That sculpture, the Sentinel (commonly known as the Green Man), was created by the late Art Department faculty, Olen Bryant. The sculpture and landscaping initiative continue to be major points of pride for the University today.

Riggs is also credited with facilitating the establishment of the two Centers on campus, The Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts and the Center of Excellence for Field Biology.

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