Born in 1889 and raised on farms in Iowa and Missouri, Lacey Arnold Eastburn attended school for only four or five months out of each year. He graduated from the eighth grade in 1908 at age nineteen. Undaunted, Eastburn passed the test for teacher certification and taught for four years, before moving to Arizona in pursuit of high wages associated with mining. He returned to Missouri, after his father suffered a stroke, and oversaw the operation and eventual sale of the family farm.
Eastburn then enrolled at Southwestern Missouri State Teachers College at Springfield. By putting in long hours, he finished a high school course and met the requirements for his Bachelor of Science degree in education in just three years. Drury College awarded him a Master of Arts degree in 1917. While a school superintendent, Eastburn applied for officer's training and became a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. A tonsillectomy, however, prevented him from serving in Europe in World War I.
In 1919, both Eastburn and his wife, Viola, were hired as teachers at Northern Arizona Normal School. In 1921, the Eastburns moved to Phoenix to join the staff of Phoenix Junior College. Graduate work at the University of Arizona, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford led to a doctorate. In 1947, Eastburn was named president of Arizona State College at Flagstaff [ASC].
Early in the Eastburn presidency, the North Central Association suspended ASC's accreditation based on weaknesses in a variety of areas. In response, Eastburn recruited high quality faculty members--such as Dr. J. Lawrence Walkup and Dr. Arthur Adel--and expanded the library. He obtained more visible support from the Board of Regents and the state legislature. In 1948, North Central modified its ruling and granted full accreditation three years later. Eastburn initiated many major building projects. Some were still in progress in September 1957, when he asked to take a month's leave of absence on the advice of his doctor. Dean J. Lawrence Walkup stepped in while he was gone, but Eastburn never returned to his position. He died in October of 1957 in Cottonwood.
Condensed from Platt Cline, Mountain Campus: The Story of Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1983), chapter VIII.