April 30, 2010 — The Rev. Dr. Paul Lionel Puryear Sr., professor emeritus at the University of Virginia, died April 22 in Charlottesville. He was 80.
He came to the University in 1982 as the dean of African-American Affairs, later serving as professor of political science and government, before retiring in December 2003 from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.
Puryear began his career as an assistant professor of political science at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, where he received tenure. In 1961, he became chairman of the political science department at Tuskeegee University in Tuskeegee, Ala. He continued his career at Fisk University in Nashville, where he served as chairman of the Social Services Division beginning in 1966.
In 1970, he became the first African-American administrator at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla., where he served as provost of the social sciences and law school. During his tenure at Florida State, he did a one-year sabbatical at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City.
In 1976, he became the vice chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he later served as professor of African-American studies.
Puryear graduated first in his class with a B.A. in sociology and political science from Talladega College in Talladega, Ala. In 1953, he entered the University of Chicago as a Danforth Foundation Fellow, where he earned a master's and a Ph.D. in political science and a Doctor of Divinity in 1960.