Chester R. Titus, 96, died in Charlottesville on Dec. 17. A longtime administrator at the University of Virginia, he served as housing director, associate dean of student affairs and associate professor of education.
Over his nearly 30 years on Grounds, from 1958 to 1987, Titus developed the Residence Life program in the Dean of Students Office and overhauled the process that made the Lawn rooms the prestigious and desirable address for fourth-year students that they are today.
Patricia M. Lampkin, vice president and chief student affairs officer since 2002, met Titus when she joined UVA’s Dean of Students Office in 1979 and said he was an early mentor.
“Chester raised me,” she said. “He and a strong group of colleagues taught me about the culture of the University and this place.” She learned from him when to offer guidance, when to be quiet or when to assert oneself, she said.
After one year off to finish his doctorate, Titus returned to the Grounds to make something more of the residential experience for students. Basically, there were just dormitory counselors, and Titus developed the Residence Life program to help students transition to college life.
“He was a strong supporter of student self-governance and had patience for student learning, even through trial and error,” Lampkin said.
Titus’ work set the stage for the transformation of the Lawn rooms into residences to which students would aspire. After he oversaw the renovation of the rooms, and they started to become more popular, he realized a more thorough process was needed. He created application and selection committees whose criteria included contributions to University life. The majority of committee members are students.
Titus himself enjoyed the Lawn as a member and eventually executive director of the Colonnade Club. Originally a faculty group that stewarded Pavilion VII, the club has fostered social, cultural and intellectual exchange among the faculty and University community since 1907.
Before he retired in 1987, Titus received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, which is presented at Valedictory Exercises to two graduating students and a member of the University community. The awards honor those who give “generous and unselfish service to others.”
“He treated everyone with equal respect,” Lampkin said. “He was clearly an inspiration.”
Predeceased by his wife, who died a year ago, Titus is survived by his four sons, John B. Titus (Beth), Thomas S. Titus, Peter G. Titus (Therese) and Gerard A. Titus (Kim), plus eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Paul’s Memorial Church, with a reception immediately following at the Colonnade Club in Pavilion VII on the Lawn.