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Longtime IU Administrator Kenneth Gros Louis Dies at 80

Ex-English professor steered university's academic affairs for nearly a quarter-century

(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) - Indiana University plans a spring memorial service for longtime administrator Kenneth Gros Louis.

Gros Louis died Friday at age 80. The former professor of medieval and Renaissance literature was university vice president for 21 years, overseeing academic affairs. He came out of retirement to serve in that job for two more years, then spent five more years as university chancellor -- a post held just once before, by legendary IU president Herman B Wells. He retired for good in 2011.

With president John Ryan, Gros Louis oversaw the creation of the IU Arboretum in the center of campus, on the grounds of the former football stadium. He led the way in establishing IU's GLBT Student Support Services Office in 1994. IU Maurer School of Law Professor Steve Sanders, who worked as an assistant to Gros Louis, notes it was a controversial step at the time.

But Sanders says Gros Louis's defining characteristic was his administrative style. He says Gros Louis treated faculty as partners in setting academic policy, and made himself accessible to both faculty and students. For several years, Gros Louis had a toll-free phone line, and took calls once a week from anyone in the state who wanted to talk. And Sanders recalls Gros Louis would host a dinner for student leaders once a year, and frequently would duck into his study to telephone the students' parents to say hi -- sometimes after having to convince them it wasn't a prank call.

In a written statement, President Michael McRobbie calls Gros Louis "a remarkable man deeply dedicated to the university."

(Photo: Michael Allio/Getty Images Sportswire)

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