Roy A. Austensen (1942 - 2016)

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  • "To my dearest husband, best and most trusted friend, loving..."
  • "To Roy's family--I just learned about Roy's passing and..."
    - Susan Gotsch
  • "i knew Roy from the Saturday Evening Club. He was ever the..."
    - Tom Tehan
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    - Linda Ferguson
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    - Mark Bartusch
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Service Information
Moeller Funeral Home
104 Roosevelt Road
Valparaiso, IN
Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Valparaiso University in the Chapel of the Resurrection
Funeral service
Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016
1:00 PM
Valparaiso University in the Chapel of the Resurrection

Roy A. Austensen, age 74, of Valparaiso, Indiana, passed away on August 12, 2016. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Anne-Marie Austensen; his son Lauritz (Amanda) Austensen, daughter Marie Bjoerg Austensen (or "Mimi"), and son Malachi Austensen; sister Lois Branstrator of Fort Wayne, Indiana; grandchildren Mitchell and Cora Austensen, and many cousins, nieces and nephews here in the United States and in Norway. He is preceded in death by his parents, Austin and Edna Austensen, his brother Gerald Austensen, and his son Matthew Austensen. Roy was born in Berwyn, Illinois in 1942. A 1960 graduate of Walther Lutheran High School in Melrose Park, Illinois, Roy earned a bachelor's degree in education from Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois (1963), a master's degree (1964) and a Ph.D (1969) in history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and did additional graduate study at the University of Vienna as a Fulbright fellow. Roy's research interests took him numerous times to Europe, including extended stays in Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Padua, to the Goethe Institute, Bad Reichenhall, Germany, for language studies, and to the University of Oslo in Norway. Roy Austensen's career in higher education as teacher, scholar, and educational leader spanned 47 years, serving two institutions he loved with great devotion and distinction, first Illinois State University, then Valparaiso University. At Illinois State University from 1969 to 1992, Roy taught a full range of courses in European history, achieving the rank of full professor in 1984. His research focused on Austrian diplomacy and foreign affairs in the 19th century, and his articles and reviews appeared in a wide variety of journals in North America and Europe. For his scholarship on European history Roy was awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities and a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies. He also received awards for individual articles he published from the Conference Group of Central European History (1980) and the German Studies Association (1981), and was the recipient of the Chester Henn Higby Prize of the American Historical Association (1980), an organization he served proudly for over 50 years. Roy's teaching was as exemplary as his scholarship. In 1986 he was named Outstanding Teacher in the University by the Illinois State Alumni Association. In 1987 he received the Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award. From 1989 to 1992, without ever leaving teaching or his scholarship behind, Roy served in his most important leadership role at Illinois State, as Associate Vice President for Instruction and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. There he would have continued to flourish had Valparaiso University not offered him, a committed life-long Lutheran educator of the highest rank and distinction, the opportunity to be its first Provost. Roy served as Provost and as Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1992 until 2009, a very dynamic time for the University during which time it was frequently recognized for the excellence of its programs by accreditors and the national media. Besides being chief academic officer of the University to whom all the deans for the different colleges reported, Roy supervised student affairs, business and financial affairs, admissions and financial aid, and electronic information services. He continued to teach European history, and became active in the national conversation on higher education administration, co-authoring a book entitled First Among Equals: The Role of the Chief Academic Officer (1997). He was a great advocate for global education and international studies, areas for which Valparaiso University became nationally recognized on his watch. He was a champion for Christian higher education, yet another way Valparaiso University has come to distinguished itself nationally, and a great spokesman for Valparaiso University's unique mission, identity, and strong Lutheran ethos, which he served and promoted in everything he did. Roy's career at Valparaiso ended as his career at Illinois State began, back in the classroom, but not before the Board of Directors conferred upon him the Lumen Christi Medal (2009), the highest award the Board confers for service to the university. That service included a term as Acting Chief Financial Officer from 1994-1996, as Acting President during the summer of 2002, and after he left the Provost's Office would include service as Acting Dean of the College of Business from 2011-2012. In his last year as Provost, Roy was co-winner of the MLK Award, conferred annually by the President of the university upon that person or organization who had contributed most significantly to the fostering of a just, inclusive, and diverse campus community. Prior to retirement, Roy was awarded the title of Distinguished Professor. Roy's commitment to service extended well beyond the confines of Valparaiso University. Since 1997 he was an active member of the Valparaiso Rotary Club. From 1998 to 2013 he served the Valparaiso United Way in various leadership roles, including a term as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 2004-2005. In 2008 Roy was awarded the Dorothy M. Porter Outstanding Volunteer Award for his service to the Valparaiso United Way. Above all else, Roy was a loving husband, a great father, a faithful Christian proud of his Norwegian Lutheran roots. He was a man who loved German music and German-made cars. He was an expert on the Austrian diplomat Prince Clemens Metternich whom he never tired of talking about to anyone whose interest he could arouse. He loved to swim, to ride his bicycle, to write and take photographs. He did all things with style and grace, humbly and without ostentation. He was a man with great gifts which he shared with amazing wisdom and generosity. Funeral Service will be held on Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 1:00 PM at Valparaiso University in the Chapel of the Resurrection with visitation Thursday from 11:00 AM until the time of service at the Chapel of the Resurrection. Private burial will take place at Angelcrest Cemetery, Valparaiso. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are requested to: Valparaiso University or the United Way. Moeller Funeral Home, Valparaiso handling arrangements.

Published in The Times on Aug. 14, 2016
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