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KU’s Del Shankel — who served as chancellor twice — dies at age 90

Former University of Kansas Chancellor Delbert Shankel died Thursday, according to the university. He is pictured here in 2005.
Former University of Kansas Chancellor Delbert Shankel died Thursday, according to the university. He is pictured here in 2005.

Delbert Shankel, the only person to serve as chancellor of the University of Kansas twice, died Thursday, according to the university. He was 90.

Shankel was acting chancellor during the 1980-81 school year, between the time Chancellor Archie Dykes resigned and Gene Budig took over. In 1994, when Budig left, Shankel served again until Robert Hemenway became in 1995. Shankel was granted emeritus status when he left the university that year.

He served in many other roles for the university, including acting chair of the microbiology department, acting head of the journalism school, acting athletic director, interim president and CEO of the KU Alumni Association and multiple roles for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

He was also KU’s first executive vice chancellor.

The Shankel Structural Biology Center was named for him in 2010.

“Throughout his academic and administrative career, Chancellor Shankel remained devoted to his scientific discipline of microbiology. He maintained an active laboratory program and advised countless master’s and doctoral students,” KU Chancellor Doug Girod said in a statement Thursday. “He was the consummate university professor, fostering interdisciplinary communication whenever he could. He once told a newspaper reporter, ‘I didn’t have a leadership career plan. I thought if I could become a good teacher, professor and researcher, I’d be happy.’”

Girod said that Shankel had been a “valued advisor” to him since he became chancellor last year. He said a memorial service would be held on campus in early September.

Shankel leaves behind his wife, Carol, two children and two grandchildren.

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