Robert R. Dunwell

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Educational Administration (EDEA)

Dr. Robert R. Dunwell, former Chair of the College of Education (COE) Department of Educational Administration, died on March 9, 2012 at the age of 81. He was a part of the COE faculty from 1969 to 1977.

Dunwell earned his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1952 on a U.S. Navy scholarship. A boat group commander on the USS Winston at Pearl Harbor, Dunwell was commissioned as an ensign from 1952–1955, serving in Japan and Korea during the Korean War. He would go on to earn his master’s and doctorate degrees in education with an emphasis on school administration, organizational theory, educational psychology, and curriculum development.

Described as bold and sometimes controversial, Dunwell’s high intellect and contributions to teaching were disputed by none. His productivity and leadership led to his promotion to chair of educational administration and tenure in the COE in 1971.

He also served on the COE Doctoral Program Admissions and Standards Council where he had a major role in curriculum development and the creation of the first manual of procedures for the Doctor of Education degree program, instituted in the early 1980s.

Together with his second wife, Janice Alcorn, he conducted HIV/AIDS education program research and presented at national and international conferences throughout the 1990s. Alcorn retired in 2011 as Associate Professor of Community Health Nursing at Washburn University where Dunwell became Professor Emeritus. He served as professor and chair of education in several universities across the U.S. before his tenure at Washburn from 1987 to 2001 when he retired.

In 2010, Dunwell earned a 50-year membership certificate from Phi Delta Kappa, Professional Association in Education. He was a member of the Kansas Parent Teachers Association, the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and the Washburn University Retiree’s Association for which he founded and edited a newsletter. An avid musician, Dunwell played the alto horn in four different bands, including the Argentine High School Reunion Band, until his death.

Brent Wholeben, Director of the Office of Research, Evaluation, and Policy Studies at Northern Illinois University, officiated at Dunwell’s military funeral at Leavenworth National Cemetery. “I have lost my 40-year graduate advisor (UH), mentor, and foster father... but not my memories,” he wrote.