Donald W. Zacharias, whose 12-year tenure as Mississippi State University’s president was second longest in the institution’s history, died Sunday at age 77 of complications from multiple sclerosis at a Starkville nursing facility.
MSU University Relations announced the death. Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time. A public memorial service is tentatively planned for Thursday but a time and location has not been finalized.
Zacharias was MSU’s 15th president, serving from 1985-97. Under his tenure, the university completed its first capital campaign, raising $143 million in private gifts and commitments by the time he left office. Funds raised during his administration were used for several campus building projects, including expansion of the Mitchell Memorial Library and construction of the Joe Frank Sanderson Center, a recreational facility.
External funding also saw significant growth — reaching $80 million in one year during his term — and the university’s endowment grew to $130 million at the time of his departure.