Wesleyan College mourns the passing on October 3rd of Robert K. Ackerman, Wesleyan’s 22nd president (1984-1997).
Dr. Ackerman’s tenure was marked by his calm, strong, steady leadership, which brought stability to the campus, strengthened the College’s relationship with the United Methodist Church, and created a focused academic program. Under his direction, alumnae of the College through the “Tradition and Vision” campaign raised significant funds to establish several new academic chairs. The College also renewed the annual baccalaureate service preceding commencement, including the traditional march by graduating seniors and faculty from the College’s original site on College Street to Mulberry Street United Methodist Church. Dr. Ackerman encouraged an emphasis on technology with a program that provided every Wesleyan student her own computer.
In recognition of his role in expanding Wesleyan’s ties with the United Methodist Church, the Board of Trustees named the chaplaincy chair in his honor upon his retirement. Later the name of legendary chaplain Bill Hurdle was added, creating the Robert K. Ackerman/William Hurdle Chaplaincy Chair.
Following his retirement, Dr. Ackerman and his wife May, an honorary Wesleyan alumna, continued to be enthusiastic supporters of the College, including through their involvement in Friends of Pierce Chapel. Dr. Ackerman often returned to the Wesleyan campus to participate in the inaugurations of the three following Wesleyan presidents.