Robert Zumwinkle, former longtime vice chancellor at UK, dies at 91

jkegley@herald-leader.comAugust 20, 2012 

A former University of Kentucky Vice Chancellor who spearheaded efforts to improve relations for minority students in the 1970s died this month from heart failure.

Robert G. Zumwinkle, 91, was vice chancellor for student affairs at UK from 1970 until his retirement in 1986.

Mr. Zumwinkle died on Aug. 9. Family and friends will celebrate his life Sept. 9 at a family cabin in his home state of Minnesota, according to an obituary submitted to the Herald-Leader.

Memorial markers will be placed at the cabin and at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota, to honor Mr. Zumwinkle's service in the Navy in World War II.

Before coming to UK, Mr. Zumwinkle had a long career in student relations at colleges in Missouri, Minnesota, Hawaii and Michigan. He held a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and was known for his love of politics and helping people, said his daughter, Mary Wilson, of California.

"With a fever for human rights and the kind of education that he had, getting into working with students, and for them, was the way to go," she said.

Mr. Zumwinkle was hired by then-UK president Otis Singletary in 1970. Among his first tasks was helping to create the Office of Minority Affairs in 1971.

The university named an award after him. The Robert G. Zumwinkle Student Rights Award recognizes outstanding efforts to protect and advance the rights of students, faculty and staff members.

After retiring, Mr. Zumwinkle lived in Lexington until 2005, when he moved to Minnesota to be closer to family. He lived in Oak View, Calif., with his daughter and her husband in the final year of his life. Mr. Zumwinkle is survived by his daughter; son David Zumwinkle of Colorado; son Mark Zumwinkle of Minnesota; and sister Barbara Mathewson of Kansas.

Donations in Mr. Zumwinkle's name may be made to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Josh Kegley: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLPublicSafety.

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