Former UNL chancellor Roy Young dies

Former UNL chancellor Roy Young dies

Roy A. Young (Courtesy Oregon State University)

Roy A. Young, who served as UNL chancellor from 1976-80, died April 19, in Corvallis, Ore. He was 91.

During his time at UNL, Young oversaw the College of Dentistry’s move to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It was also at Young’s recommendation in 1979 that the School of Journalism, now known as the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, become separate from the College of Arts and Sciences. Upon his arrival in Lincoln from Oregon State University, Young was charged with increasing research activity and outside funding, and by 1980 UNL achieved a record $30 million in grants, contracts and gifts.

Young also was known for setting up a system of Faculty Development Fellowships, similar to sabbaticals, that allowed qualified professors to go on leave for a semester or year at half pay. He also initiated UNL’s affiliation with the National Merit Scholars program.

"We are saddened to learn of the death of former Chancellor Roy Young,” Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. “A lifelong researcher, Chancellor Young presided over a period of change at UNL. He was a dedicated champion of the mission of the university, especially its research efforts and the quality of undergraduate education across UNL.

“His legacy at our university is still evident today."

Young was born the son of John A. Young and Etta J. (Sprinkle) Young on March 1, 1921, in McAlister, N.M., where he grew up on the family ranch. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from New Mexico State University, and his Master of Science degree in 1942 from Iowa State University.

Young was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, serving as a deck officer, navigator, antisubmarine warfare officer, and executive officer in the Atlantic and Pacific areas of operation from 1942 to 1946. He served in the Navy Reserve from 1946 to 1954 and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander. He returned to Iowa State following the end of World War II, and was awarded his doctoral degree in plant pathology and botany in 1948.

From 1948 to 1976, Young was a professor at Oregon State University, serving as head of the department of botany and plant pathology from 1958 to 1966, dean of research from 1966 to 1969, acting president in 1969 and 1970, and vice president for research from 1970 to 1976. In 1985, Young received Oregon State’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

He led efforts at UNL to increase the quality standards for student admissions and enhancement of the teaching and research programs of the campus. He departed UNL to accept the post of president and managing director of the prestigious Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Ithaca, N.Y., where he served from 1980 to 1986.

Young is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marilyn; and their two children, Janet of Merced, Calif.; and Randall of Portland, his wife, Nancy, and their children, Katherine and Robert.

Private interment was held at River View Cemetery in Portland. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to make memorial contributions give to the charity of their choosing.