Jessamine County

Dennis Kinlaw, twice president of Asbury University, dies at 94

Dennis F. Kinlaw served two tenures as president of Asbury College, now Asbury University. He died Monday at 94.
Dennis F. Kinlaw served two tenures as president of Asbury College, now Asbury University. He died Monday at 94.

Dennis F. Kinlaw of Wilmore, who served two tenures as president of Asbury College, now Asbury University, died Monday. He was 94.

During his two presidential tenures (1968-81 and 1986-91), Kinlaw charted the course for a period of spiritual revival, enriched academics and unprecedented enrollment growth at the Christian, multi-denominational, liberal arts school in Wilmore.

“A dear friend, giant in the faith and one of the leading Christian voices of Wesleyan-Holiness has passed on to his heavenly reward,” Asbury President Sandra C. Gray said in a statement.

Born in 1922, Kinlaw attended Asbury from 1939-43. In addition to serving as student body president, he was president of the freshman, sophomore and senior classes, volunteered in a college missionary society, led the debate team for three years and served as religion editor of the Collegian student newspaper.

After graduating from Asbury, Kinlaw married his classmate Elsie Blake, and was ordained a minister. He pursued further studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Brandeis University. Kinlaw served at various times as a pastor in New York and a visiting professor at Seoul Theological Seminary.

In 1968, Kinlaw accepted an invitation to serve as president of Asbury. Under his leadership, Asbury added a new department of student affairs, created new majors including social work and computer science. and hired many new faculty members. In the first 10 years of Kinlaw’s presidency, the number of faculty rose from 50 to 96.

Also during his tenure, Asbury built the Kresge women’s residence hall and adopted a plan for minority recruitment.

In 2001, Asbury opened a new $14 million library named for Kinlaw and his wife. She died in 2003 at age 82. In 2010, Asbury College changed its name to Asbury University.

Survivors include his children, Beth Kinlaw Coppedge, Dennis Kinlaw Jr. , Katy Kinlaw Key, Sally Kinlaw Babcock and Susie Kinlaw Masters

Visitation will be 4 to 9 p.m. Friday at Hughes Auditorium on the Asbury University campus. A “celebration of life” service will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hughes Auditorium; doors will open at 9 a.m. A live stream of the Saturday service will be on the asbury.edu web site.

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