HARRISONBURG, Va. — Ron Carrier, the fourth president of James Madison University, has died.

The school in Harrisonburg, Virginia, said in a statement that Carrier, who was 85, died Monday. The cause was cancer.

The university said the former economics professor was the youngest college president in the nation when he took the helm in 1971. He led JMU for 27 years.

During his tenure, Carrier shepherded the school’s transformation from Madison College to James Madison University. He also helped expand the athletics program into a national champion at the NCAA Division I level.

The school saw the addition of 40 programs, five colleges and programs in 37 countries.

He is survived by his wife Edith Johnson Carrier, two daughters and five grandchildren.

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