Robert Hemenway

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Robert Hemenway
Chancellor of the University of Kansas
In office
Preceded by Del Shankel
Succeeded by Bernadette Gray-Little
Personal details
Born (1941-08-10)August 10, 1941
Nebraska, United States
Died July 31, 2015(2015-07-31) (aged 73)
Lenexa, Kansas
Spouse(s) Leah Renee Hattemer
Children 8
Alma mater University of Nebraska Omaha
Kent State University

Robert Emery Hemenway (August 10, 1941 – July 31, 2015) was the 16th chancellor of the University of Kansas (KU).


Hemenway was born in 1941 in Nebraska.[1] He arrived at KU in 1995 as the successor to interim chancellor, Del Shankel. Prior to his tenure at KU, Hemenway served as chancellor of the University of Kentucky from 1989 to 1995 and Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma from 1986 to 1989. Hemenway was succeeded as chancellor by Bernadette Gray-Little.

In addition to his duties as chancellor, Hemenway has served as Chair of the 18-member NCAA Division I board of directors from 2002 to 2005 and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education. Since 2002, Hemenway has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

Upon his arrival at KU, Hemenway prioritized making KU a Top 25 academic institution in America, which he has continued at an even greater pace in more recent years. In 2007, KU ranked 88th [2] according to the US News & World Report ranking of all national universities (public & private). During Hemenway's tenure, KU has ranked as high as 30th (1998) in the US News & World Report ranking of public universities and was ranked 45th in 2005.[3] KU ranks 3rd among public colleges and universities for the number of Academic All-Americans since 1990. Hemenway has also made research a pillar of KU, especially in medical fields, and, in 2006, made a commitment to cancer research through the designation of the KU Cancer Center.[4]

Chancellor's Residence, the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

On December 8, 2008, Hemenway announced that he would step down from the chancellor position on June 30, 2009 after serving 14 years in the position.[5] He announced that he would be transitioning to the role of faculty member after taking a sabbatical during the 2009–10 academic year, to write a book on intercollegiate athletics and American values. Hemenway was replaced by Bernadette Gray-Little.[6]

Hemenway died July 31, 2015 from complications of Parkinson's disease.[7]


Teaching and scholarship[edit]

  • Authored "Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography", about the Harlem Renaissance author, which was named one of the New York Times' Best Books of 1978.
  • In addition to serving as chancellor, Hemenway teaches English.
  • Professor of English at the University of Kentucky and the University of Wyoming


  • Nicknames: Chancellor Bob (referred to himself as this at 2006 commencement [8]); Uncle Bob (sometimes used by students)
  • Married Leah Renee Hattemer on December 19, 1981.


  1. ^ "Chancellor Robert Hemenway: 14 years leading KU". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ " America's Best Colleges - University of Kansas". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2007. 
  3. ^ Rombeck, Terry (August 19, 2005). "KU chalks up lowest ranking yet". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved March 19, 2007. 
  4. ^ Hemenway, Robert (January 19, 2006). "Governor's Budget Recommendations". University of Kansas. Archived from the original on June 16, 2007. Retrieved March 19, 2007. 
  5. ^ Hemenway, Robert (December 8, 2008). "Special Message from KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway". Lawrence Journal-World. Retrieved January 29, 2008. 
  6. ^ Carpenter, Tim (May 29, 2009). "UNC provost named KU chancellor". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Robert Hemenway, former University of Kansas chancellor, dies at 73 | The Kansas City Star". Retrieved 2015-08-02. 
  8. ^ "Remarks by Chancellor Hemenway at 2006 commencement". Retrieved March 19, 2007.