As you may know, former University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway passed away Friday evening. He was 73 years old, and we take great comfort in knowing he spent his final days surrounded by his family. He leaves behind his wife, Leah, and eight grown children.
While we are deeply saddened to learn of his passing, I hope we can use the coming days to celebrate his life, including the work he did as the university’s chancellor from 1995-2009.
Chancellor Hemenway was a visionary leader who guided the University of Kansas to unprecedented successes during his time here. He took tremendous pride in making the university more student-focused, and under his leadership KU made improvements in how we educate students and provide them a world-class experience.
Chancellor Hemenway also guided the university to record-high research funding levels and helped position KU as a major player in the Kansas City life sciences and information technology industries. It was Chancellor Hemenway who made achieving National Cancer Institute designation for the KU Cancer Center the university's top priority. Additionally, he oversaw a resurgence of our athletics program, a record-setting fundraising period for the university, and a number of crucial capital improvement projects on the Lawrence, Edwards and KU Medical Center campuses that have greatly benefited our university.
Most importantly, Chancellor Hemenway, who always preferred being called “Bob,” was a wonderful and friendly man who loved his job, loved the people around him, and loved this place — and he was loved in return. A former English professor turned administrator, he never lost his passion for teaching and scholarship. For that, and for countless other reasons, he will forever be a wonderful role model for our students, faculty and staff.
A memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 9 at the Dole Institute of Politics at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the Hemenway family asks that memorial contributions be made to the Robert E. Hemenway Scholarship fund, in care of the KU Endowment Association.
The KU community is invited to share their thoughts and memories of Chancellor Hemenway on Twitter using the hashtag “ChancellorBob.” We also encourage you to visit our Remembering Chancellor Hemenway webpage for content, photos and video of Chancellor Hemenway.
On behalf of the entire university, I extend my condolences to Chancellor Hemenway's family and friends. As a KU community, we owe Bob a debt of gratitude, for the work he did paved the way for so much of the great work we are doing today.