A former University of Regina president who played a key role in expanding the institution during the 1970s and 1980s has died.

Lloyd Barber became the university's second president in 1976, and produced a document the following year that identified niche opportunities for an program expansion.

By the time he left office in 1990, enrolment had tripled.

During his time as president, the university entered into a partnership with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, which is now the First Nations University of Canada.

Current president Vianne Timmons says the University of Regina deeply mourns Barber's death, saying the community has lost a visionary.

Barber died Friday in Regina at the age of 79.

A memorial service will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. in the main gymnasium at the University of Regina Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport.

"We have lost a valued visionary, founder, leader, colleague and dear friend of this campus," Timmons said in a statement released Sunday.

"We will continue to honour his contributions throughout our lifetime."

The University of Regina has its roots in Regina College, a small residential high school established by the Methodist church in 1911.

It grew in size and significance as a campus of the University of Saskatchewan, and later became an independent degree-granting university in 1974.

Barber is credited for leading the University of Regina to become a pioneer in aboriginal education through its partnership with the First Nations University of Canada.

He also led a University of Regina delegation to China in 1981 that became the basis for visits and exchanges over the past 30 years.

Born in Regina in 1932, Barber was a professor of commerce with the University of Saskatchewan from 1955 to 1976. He was also a member of the Northwest Territories Council from 1967 to 1970, was federal Indian Claims Commissioner from 1969 to 1977, and was negotiator for treaty land entitlement in Saskatchewan on behalf of 27 aboriginal bands.

Barber was made an honorary Saskatchewan Indian Chief in 1980 and received the Aboriginal Order of Canada in 1985. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978 and received the Vanier Medal of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada in 1979. In 1993, he was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada.

That same year, he received an honorary degree from the University of Regina, and in 1995 he was invested as a member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.