Delbert Shankel

Obituary
  • "Dr. Shankel set the example to follow in everything he did,..."
    - Simon Kuo
  • "I went to school with Del's son Merrill. Sorry to hear the..."
  • "I went to school with Del's son Merrill. Sorry to hear the..."
  • "Tally Ho! Dr. Shankel."
    - Patti W.
  • "Chancellor Shankel's wife Carol was my favorite teacher..."
    - Helen Pendleton Rumbaut

Delbert M. Shankel, 90, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Kansas, died on July 12, 2018, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Del was born August 4, 1927 in Plainview, NE, the son of Cecil Shankel and Gladys Dodd Shankel. He received his B.A. in English with minors in Chemistry and Zoology from Walla Walla College in Washington State in 1950. He earned his Ph.D. in Bacteriology with a minor in Biochemistry in 1959 from the University of Texas, Austin. Del served in the U.S. Army from 1951-54 and taught Bacteriology at the Army Laboratory Technicians School in Houston, Texas.

Del began his academic career as Assistant Professor of Microbiology at KU in 1959. Over his research career, he was author or co-author of more than 50 major papers in professional journals and was a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

For more than 50 years, Del Shankel served the University of Kansas. When he began his career as an assistant professor, little did Del realize how quickly he would rise through the ranks--not only professorial, but administrative as well. As he was promoted to Associate Professor and gained tenure, Del also began his administrative career as Acting Chairman of the Department of Microbiology. Not long after, he became Assistant Dean and then Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, while at the same time earning promotion to full Professor.

He became Acting Dean of the College for a year, before serving as Executive Vice Chancellor for the Lawrence Campus for six years. He was Acting Chancellor between Archie Dykes and Gene Budig, followed by two brief stints as Acting Athletics Director. He served as Acting Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Acting Executive Vice Chancellor, before assuming the position of Executive Vice Chancellor for the second time. He was Faculty Athletics Representative to the Big 8 Conference and the NCAA. In 1994, the Board of Regents asked him to serve a second time as Acting Chancellor between Gene Budig and Robert Hemenway, and then in gratitude for his leadership and service, officially recognized him as the 15th Chancellor of the University.

To top off a brilliant acting career, he was named Interim President of the KU Alumni Association. Del was always an avid fan and supporter of KU men's and women's sports. Throughout his many and varied roles, Del has been an inspiring leader, a down-to-earth colleague, and a mentor to countless undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to other administrators, faculty and staff. In 2010, the University named the Shankel Structural Biology Center on West Campus in his honor.

Del leaves his wife Carol and two daughters, Jill and her husband Dan Lopez of CA, and Kelley and her husband Brian Hahn of WA, and two grandchildren, Benjamin and Madeline Shankel Lopez. Del is also survived by two brothers, Stewart and Clinton Shankel, both of CA.

The memorial service will be Saturday, August 18, 2018, at 4 p.m. in Woodruff auditorium in the Kansas Union on campus, followed by a reception at the Adams Alumni Center. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Del and Carol Shankel Bio-Medical Scholarship Fund at the KU Endowment Association, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence, KS 66044-0928.
Published in Lawrence Journal-World on July 14, 2018
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