WMU News

Robert B. Wetnight

June 3, 2004

Robert B. Wetnight, Western Michigan University's first vice president for finance, died June 1 in Florida. He was 81.

Wetnight was first appointed comptroller by then-WMU President James Miller and was named vice president in 1965. In all, the former accountancy professor spent 23 years managing the University's financial resources, before retiring in 1985. His tenure saw a growth in the campus general fund budget from $3 million to more than $77 million, and near the close of his WMU career, he helped the University negotiate a dire fiscal crisis in the early 1980s.

In a 1984 Kalamazoo Gazette interview, shortly before his retirement, Wetnight said he considered the development of a good staff and a "professional business operation" for the University his major accomplishments. By that point, his office had grown to oversee budgets and financial planning, employee relations and personnel, physical plant, auxiliary enterprises, public safety, investments and risk management and internal audit.

He also served as the founding treasurer for the WMU Foundation and treasurer of the University's Paper Technology Foundation.

Wetnight, who served as finance chief under two WMU presidents, began his work at WMU in 1951, when he was hired by Dr. Arnold Schneider, who was the head of the WMU's fledgling business school. Wetnight was only the second full-time instructor in accountancy for the business program, and he went on to head the accountancy academic program when the College of Business--now the Haworth College of Business--was established in 1956.

Active in the Kalamazoo community, Wetnight served as president of the Kalamazoo Country Club and vice president of the Kalamazoo Area Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers and held state and national offices in such organizations as the National Association of Accountants, the American Accounting Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

An Ohio native, Wetnight earned a bachelor's degree and an MBA from the University of Toledo in 1947 and 1958, respectively. He worked for four years as a staff accountant with Arthur Young & Co.'s Toledo office before joining the WMU faculty.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Robert B. Wetnight Scholarship Fund, in care of the WMU Foundation, Kalamazoo MI 49008-5403.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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