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Paul Meacham, ex-CSN president and education trailblazer, dies at 83

The College of Southern Nevada’s longest-serving president and the state’s first African American college leader, Paul Meacham, has died at 83.

A longtime advocate for higher education in Southern Nevada and throughout the country, Meacham was named president of CSN, then known as Clark County Community College, in 1983. He served in that role until 1994, and went on to teach at UNLV for nine years.

“The entire CSN family wishes to express our deepest condolences to Dr. Meacham’s family,” said CSN President Frederico Zaragoza said. “Dr. Meacham was a giant in CSN’s past who changed the lives of thousands of college students. His legacy will continue to shape the college and the state of Nevada for generations to come.”

The student services building on the college’s Charleston campus was named for Meacham in 2015.

Meacham was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1936 and began his career as a high school band director before taking on administrative positions in the Dallas County Community College District and in the Austin, Texas Community College System.

Asked once how he overcame the racial strife of the time, Meacham said he “outniced them.”

“People can handle ugliness. They can exploit it. But if someone continues to be nice to them, they start having second thoughts and start feeling ashamed. That was a big part of how I succeeded,” Meacham said during the naming ceremony of the student services building in 2015.

Apart from his career in higher education, Meacham was active in West Las Vegas Art Center, as well as the the local chapter of the Buffalo Soldiers, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of the African American soldiers in the Civil War.

He received multiple awards for his work in education, including a Legacy Award from the National Council on Black American Affairs “for his many contributions to education and the NCBAA, serving as a mentor to countless students, staff and administrators, as well as his legacy at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN).”

A memorial service will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at Mountain View Presbyterian Church.

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at (702) 383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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