Former KU executive vice chancellor dies

A man who had been executive vice chancellor, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean and an English professor — among other roles — at the University of Kansas died this month.

Robert “Bob” Cobb died June 7 at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., according to his obituary. He was 91.

Cobb was born in Arkansas, earned an undergraduate degree from Baylor University and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan, according to his obituary. He also was a World War II veteran.

Cobb came to KU in 1957, and rose through the ranks. At various times, he directed the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Honors Program and the Nunemaker College-Within-the-College, and also served as Dean of International Programs, according to a KU news release. According to his obituary, he helped establish an exchange program with the University of Benin in Nigeria.

Cobb was KU’s executive vice chancellor from 1980 to 1987. He earned emeritus status in 1989.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little extended condolences to those who knew Cobb. “Robert Cobb was a talented and dedicated administrator and a devoted teacher and faculty member who served our university well in a wide variety of often challenging roles,” Gray-Little said in KU’s news release.

James Gunn, KU professor emeritus of English and a friend and colleague of Cobb’s, called him an intelligent, charming, witty and caring administrator, according to KU’s news release.

“My favorite memory is his inviting, as dean, the 18 members of my third Intensive English Institute on the Teaching of Science Fiction to his home for a reception — a truly unusual and enlightened act that impressed the students so much one wrote a poem about it,” Gunn said.

Cobb is survived by his wife, Janice, two children and three grandchildren, according to his obituary. A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 14, at Plymouth Congregational Church.

• I’m the Journal-World’s KU and higher ed reporter. See all the newspaper’s KU coverage here. Reach me by email at, by phone at 832-7187, on Twitter @saramarieshep or via Facebook at