CHAMPAIGN — Dr. Kenneth E. Andersen, Ph.D., 86, of Champaign passed away peacefully on Sunday (Jan. 26, 2020).
He is survived by his wife Mary, a son Erik, Erik’s wife Susan and three grandchildren, Nickolas, Megan and Alyssa, of Batavia, Ill. He was the youngest of five children; his three sisters and a brother are deceased.
Kenneth Eldon Andersen was born on an Iowa farm of an immigrant Danish father, Mads Ingvard (Edward) Andersen, and Anna Christiansen Andersen, a first-generation daughter of Danish immigrant farmers. He graduated from Harlan High School, Harlan, Iowa, in 1951. Upon graduating he earned a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, and a master of arts from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa).
Upon competing his M.A. degree, Ken was an instructor in English and speech at the University of Colorado, followed by two years of service in the U.S. Army as an education specialist and part-time instructor for New Mexico State University on the White Sands Proving Ground. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he served two years as a teaching assistant and held a Knapp Fellowship for his third year, before earning his Ph.D.
Following his 1961 doctorate, Dr. Andersen served briefly as a visiting professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and the University of Southern California. He then taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, before relocating in 1970 to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, eventually retiring as professor emeritus of communication in 1995.
Throughout his career, Dr. Andersen saw himself as an educator with a love of teaching and mentoring. He particularly enjoyed service as a debate coach at Iowa State Teachers, Wisconsin and Michigan. At the University of Illinois, in addition to teaching and administrative appointments in the Department of Communication, he served as associate dean in LAS, interim head of Speech Communication and later of Speed and Hearing Science, and deputy vice chancellor of Academic Affairs.
Deeply committed to the concept of shared governance, he served numerous roles in the University Senate, including three years as chair, three terms as a member of the University Senates’ Conference and, with service extending well into his retirement, as Senate parliamentarian for numerous chancellors.
Dr. Andersen was active in the American Association of University Professors as local chapter member and president, state conference president and treasurer, as well as editor and an editorial writer for the AAUP newsletter. He was a chapter and often conference delegate to more than 30 national AAUP conventions, chairing three national committees and serving a term on the national conference. His service to the Association of State Conferences was honored with the Tracey Award.
Ken was also active in numerous disciplinary associations, including serving in multiple roles for the National Communication Association, such as Finance Board chair, convention planner and president; he was recognized with the association’s Distinguished Service Award. In addition, he served as executive secretary, convention planner and president of the Central States Communication Association and as president of the National Association of Communication Administrators.
Professor Andersen authored books on persuasion and introductory communication and co-authored a book of original essays and selected journal articles. As a contributing scholar, his many articles focused on shared governance, higher education issues and a range of disciplinary subjects from argumentation and persuasion, research summaries and, in later years, ethical issues in communication.
His focus on ethical issues led him to serving as the conference planner and keynote speaker at the National Communication Association 1999 summer conference that formulated the Credo for Ethical Communication later adopted by the association. He believed that to be his greatest enduring contribution to the field of communication.
Ken developed a continuing interest in classical music and theater beginning at the age of 12 when he happened upon a broadcast of Wagner’s Walkure with its magic fire music. He grew to love live musical theater and Broadway musicals. Those interests were expressed through support for the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts as a member of the Colwell Society, then the Foellinger Society, and the sponsoring of many Krannert performances. For over 20 years, he was a season subscriber to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and for over a decade to the San Francisco Opera.
He often said: “I have been incredibly lucky in life: my wife, my son and his family, my profession and chosen discipline, and an incredible range of experiences. As Aristotle stressed in his doctrine of choices, good choices are basic to a good life in a good community.”
A visitation will be held on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, from 10:30 a.m. until 12 noon at Morgan Memorial Home, located at 1304 Regency Drive West in Savoy. A memorial service will immediately follow the visitation at the funeral home at noon.
Memorial contributions may be made to Kenneth E. & Mary Klaaren Andersen Fund in support of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Online condolences can be shared with his family at www.morganmemorialhome.com.