March 1, 2004

Contact: Todd Cohen, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

Statement by Chancellor Hemenway on death of former Chancellor Wescoe

LAWRENCE -- University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway issued the following statement in response to the death Sunday of W. Clarke Wescoe, the 10th chancellor of the university. Wescoe was 83.

"On behalf of the entire university community, I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the children of Chancellor Wescoe on their tremendous loss. Chancellor Wescoe's mark on this institution will continue to benefit students and scholars for generations to come.

"Chancellor Wescoe was a great leader of this university during one of the most challenging and turbulent periods in its history. As a testament to his considerable talent, he skillfully managed to enhance the quality of education at this university while also defusing explosive campus unrest and responding to the near doubling in enrollment.

"Chancellor Wescoe once said a university is created for the 'young in heart and the brave in spirit.' He may well have been speaking of his own enthusiasm for life and learning. This university is a better place thanks to the dedication and many personal and financial contributions of Clarke Wescoe. He was a true Jayhawk, and he will be missed."

Memorial services: The university will conduct a memorial service for Wescoe at 4 p.m. March 10 in the Central Court of the Spencer Museum of Art at KU, with overflow seating in the Spencer auditorium. A reception will follow at the Adams Alumni Center. There will be a display of materials from the Wescoe years, including senior class banners, at the alumni center. Parking is available in the Mississippi Street parking facility. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Kansas University Endowment Association. Private burial services will take place at KU's Pioneer Cemetery.

Wescoe, who was born May 3, 1920, in Allentown, Pa., earned his bachelor's degree at Muhlenberg College in Allentown in 1941 and his medical degree at Cornell University in New York in 1944. After serving two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, Wescoe worked as a physician in New York and then joined the Cornell faculty.

He joined the KU faculty in 1951 as a professor of pharmacology at the medical center in Kansas City, Kan. One year later at age 32, he was named dean of the School of Medicine, the youngest medical dean in the nation. In 1960, he was named chancellor, replacing Franklin Murphy, who resigned to become chancellor of the University of California-Los Angeles. In 1969, Wescoe resigned to become vice president for medical affairs and research at Sterling Drug Inc. and, in 1985, retired as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of that company.

Wescoe and his late wife, Barbara Benton Wescoe, made significant financial contributions to the university, including 46 gifts of art to the Spencer Museum of Art, such as:

 • "An Idyl," an oil landscape from the 1640s by French artist Claude Lorrain. Donated 1980.
 • Japanese standing "Amida Buddha," a wood and lacquer figure from the 1400s. Donated 1990.
 • "Haniwa figure of a warrior," a late 1400s Japanese terra cotta figure. Donated 1977.

In 1987, the Wescoes also donated the "Tai Chi Figure" sculpture by Zhu Ming, which is in front of Green Hall.

Two structures on KU's campuses are named in Wescoe's honor -- the 30-year-old Wescoe Hall, KU's humanities building in Lawrence, and Wescoe Pavilion at the medical center in Kansas City, Kan. His alma mater, Muhlenberg College, renamed its Evening College as the Wescoe School of Professional Studies.

During Wescoe's tenure at KU, the university experienced unpredecented growth, with enrollment nearly doubling from 10,000 to more than 17,500, and saw state appropriations grow from $13 million to more than $26 million. Research grants to the university also grew, from $4.6 million in 1960 to $15.8 million in 1969. More than $43 million in new buildings were erected while he was chancellor, and he undertook an $18.6 million campaign for private support, then the university's largest capital gift campaign. Wescoe increased faculty appointments and reorganized university governance bodies to include student membership.

Known as a warm, personable man, Wescoe was called the "singing chancellor," as he would occasionally sing original lyrics at convocation and commencement, including the following 1966 lyrics written to "My Fair Lady":

"Here on Lilac Lane in the heart of town
You can hear this Clarke in almost any part of town

"Here excitement pours
Out of all the doors
Here on this, on the Hill where we live ...

"... People stop and stare
They don't bother me
For there's nowhere else on earth where I would rather be ..."

Chancellors of the University of Kansas

R.W. Oliver, 1865-1867
John Fraser, 1867-1874
James Marvin, 1874-1883
Joshua A. Lippincott, 1883-1889
Francis Huntington Snow, 1890-1901
Frank Strong, 1902-1920
Ernest Hiram Lindley, 1920-1939
Deane W. Malott, 1939-1951
Franklin David Murphy, 1951-1960
W. Clarke Wescoe, 1960-1969
E. Laurence Chalmers, 1969-1972
Raymond F. Nichols, 1972-1973
Archie R. Dykes, 1973-1980
Gene A. Budig, 1981-1994
Delbert M. Shankel, 1994-1995
Robert E. Hemenway, 1995-


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