Archive for Thursday, June 1, 1995


June 1, 1995


On his first day as a college professor in 1966, Robert Hemenway learned a lesson that serves him well today.

"I was full of exuberance," said Hemenway, recalling that first English course at University of Kentucky. "I talked and talked."

After class, one of two sisters in the class approached him. She informed the rookie scholar that her sister was deaf. Each time Hemenway spoke while writing on the blackboard her sister lost the ability to read his lips.

"That's the day I learned you've got to be aware of everybody in your class," he said.

Over the next three decades, Hemenway discovered many other fine points of teaching. Today, he begins to demonstrate his academic dexterity as Kansas University's 16th chancellor.

"I'm excited about the challenges and opportunities," he said.

Hemenway, 53, was hired in January to replace Chancellor Del Shankel, who served one year as KU's chief executive. Shankel took over when Gene Budig became president of baseball's American League.

In his office in Strong Hall today, Hemenway will plow through paperwork, meet with a dean and speak with participants of a piano institute conducted on campus.

By the time students arrive in August, his office shelves will be packed with books and his family will have unpacked at the chancellor's residence. He'll live there with his wife, Leah, and two of their children, Zack and Arna.

Just as he did almost 30 years ago, Hemenway will dispense his view on literature at KU. He'll teach American Literature II at 7:30 a.m. The class is booked solid.

"It will be full until they find out there's a quiz every day," Hemenway joked.

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