WMU News

Philip S. Denenfeld

May 5, 2000

Dr. Philip S. Denenfeld, Western Michigan University provost and vice president emeritus for academic affairs, died May 4 in Kalamazoo. He was 76.

Denenfeld retired from WMU at the end of 1986, after 30 years of service to the University as a faculty member and administrator. He first joined the faculty in 1956 as an assistant professor of English. During the next three decades, he held the positions of associate professor, professor, associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and associate vice president for academic affairs.

Denenfeld was named vice president for academic affairs in 1983. He also served as acting president of WMU for a brief period, between the retirement of Dr. John Bernhard and the arrival of Dr. Diether H. Haenicke, the University's fourth and fifth presidents.

Denenfeld headed a wide array of University task forces and committees, and he was active in a number of national organizations, including serving as an accrediting consultant/examiner for the North Central Association. He was chairperson from 1983 to 1985 of the Coordinating Council for the Kalamazoo Consortium of Higher Education and a member of the board of directors of MERIT, a statewide computer network. A longtime member of the Michigan Civil Liberties Union, he served as vice chairperson of that organization from 1963 to 1965 and from 1973 to 1980.

Denenfeld also served for a period on the national staff of the Washington, D.C., office of the American Association of University Professors and was the first chairperson of the AAUP's Special Committee on Junior and Community Colleges. Active as a consultant on such topics as governance and faculty-administration relations, Denenfeld advised a number of other colleges and universities, including Rutgers University, St. Mary's College, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York at Binghamton and the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Higher Education.

A native of the Highland Park, Mich., Denenfeld earned a bachelor's degree from Wayne State University in 1950 and master's and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University in 1951 and 1957, respectively.

A special memorial service will be held Sunday, May 7, in the Dalton Center Recital Hall beginning at 1 p.m. Memorial gifts may be sent to the WMU Foundation for the Philip S. Denenfeld Memorial Scholarship.

WMU News
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