Auburn University icon Emily Reaves Leischuck dies

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Emily Reaves Leischuck, a woman known for her nearly 40 years of love for and dedication to Auburn University, died Friday in Auburn.

A graveside service in Auburn’s Town Creek Cemetery will be held Tuesday, April 23, at 11:30 a.m. A reception at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center will follow the service.

Leischuck earned a master’s degree from Auburn University’s College of Education and served for nine years in student affairs programs, where she was Panhellenic adviser and assistant to Dean of Women Katherine Cater. For the 13 years that followed, she served as assistant to university presidents Wilford Bailey, James Martin and William Muse and the Board of Trustees, retiring in 1995 with emeritus status.

Upon her retirement in 1995, Director of Athletics Emeritus David Housel called Leischuck “that rare blend of genteel Southern lady and the 90s professional woman.”

“The line in the Auburn Creed which says, ‘I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual happiness and brings happiness for all’ was written about Emily Leischuck,” Housel said.

Long supportive of student organizations and a frequent leader in community service activities, she was a 1996 recipient of the university’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for humanitarian leadership.

In recognition of her efforts on behalf of Auburn students and the entire Auburn family, the university named a residence hall, Emily Reaves Leischuck Hall, in her honor in 1998.

She and her husband Gerald, both former educators, met while they were students at Auburn and earned graduate degrees in education from the university in 1964. Gerald began his 35-year Auburn University career in the Office of Institutional Research and also worked with the Office of Planning and Analysis. He served as executive assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees.

In 2005, the couple endowed the Gerald and Emily Leischuck Endowed Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching to recognize and reward the university’s best teachers. The annual awards recognize faculty members who have demonstrated effective and innovative teaching methods and a continuing commitment to student success through advising and mentoring inside and outside the classroom.

The two endowed the Emily R. and Gerald S. Leischuck Endowed Professorship for Educational Leadership in 2009, which enables the College of Education to recruit and retain educational leadership faculty, especially those who are focused on the preparation of school principals and superintendents.

In addition, the Leischucks endowed the Leischuck-Reaves Endowment for Scholarships at Auburn in honor of their parents, Claude and Emily Tyson Reaves and Steve and Nellie Leischuck. The couple has established or provided for scholarship programs at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Northern Colorado.

“Ms. Emily was the epitome of a Southern lady, gracious and kind, as well as a real steel magnolia – tough and strong, yet sweet and feminine,” said Debbie Shaw, vice president for alumni affairs and executive director of the Auburn Alumni Association. “She was as smart as she was witty. She loved Auburn University, and Auburn loved her back.”

Emily Leischuck was born in Birmingham and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama. She served as a teacher and counselor in the Autauga County and Auburn City school systems before beginning her Auburn University career in 1974.

Contact: Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (