Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches
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RONALD M. BROWN
Dr. Ronald M. Brown died unexpectedly at his home on July 2, 2005. He was a devoted son and a loving husband and father. He was also an extremely effective administrator and an engaging teacher. He is survived by his wife, Marilou, sons, Robert and Patrick and their wives, and five grandchildren. He was a valued friend and colleague—a thinker and a doer. One of his friends said, “In a crisis, I want Ron Brown on my side.”
Ronald Miles Brown was born in Riley, Kansas, on March 19, 1931, to James L. Brown and Margaret Beninga (Brown) Armitage. Following primary and secondary education in small towns and one room rural schools, he enrolled in the University of Colorado in 1947. After graduating in 1951, he became a secondary school teacher—only slightly older than some of his students. He was a product of the high plains, yet he was not defined by them.
He returned to Colorado and earned a master’s degree in 1957. He remained on the administrative staff there in the area of financial aid. Ultimately, he was named director and earned a national reputation as that field developed during the early 1960s. Also during this period, Ron married Marilou Diemer, and Robert and Patrick became his sons.
In 1964 and 1965, the family lived in Salzburg, Austria, where Ron served with the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies. This assignment was very important to him, and he regaled friends with stories of his Salzburg experiences for the rest of his life.
After returning from Austria, he began doctoral studies at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While Ron studied, Marilou taught in the Ann Arbor public schools, and the boys continued their educations. During his doctoral program, he was pressed into service, again in financial aid. During this period, he worked with Stephen Spurr.
Ron completed his Ph.D. in 1971, and shortly thereafter was appointed Vice President for Student Affairs at UT Austin—again working with Steve Spurr, who had moved from Michigan to become president. Dr. Brown served in executive level positions for the next eighteen years: as Vice President for Student Affairs from 1971-76, as Vice President for Administrative Services from 1976-79, and again as Vice President for Student Affairs from 1979-1989. He served under four presidents: Stephen Spurr, Lorene Rogers, Peter Flawn, and William Cunningham.
These years were always exciting and sometimes difficult. In addition to leading the division of student affairs (twice), Vice President Brown cleaned up scandals, participated in the University’s Centennial celebration, and oversaw Intercollegiate Athletics. A measure of his remarkable administrative skill was the fact that although he did not have great interest in the competitive aspects of athletics, he was a highly effective leader in that area. In fact, even though clearly able to distinguish one sport from another, he took considerable pride in his inability to recognize a fast break, an I-formation, or a squeeze play—or even the sport with which each is associated. Shortly after he left central administration—as a mark of their deep affection and respect—his colleagues and friends created the Ronald M. and Marilou D. Brown Scholarship Fund to support children of UT staff members who were pursuing degrees at the University.
During his years as a vice president, Dr. Brown worked with many students who were interested in becoming college and university administrators. He was a professor in the Department of Educational Administration, and in 1989, he became a full-time member of the Higher Education Administration program. He taught courses on the organization and administration of higher education, the philosophy of higher education, and higher education legislative issues. He served for several years as the program’s director. He retired in 2001.
Ron Brown loved his family, his church, flowers (when arranged well), animals (especially Scotties and Westies), pipe organ music, dancing (especially the Charleston), travel, food (if well cooked) and wine—not necessarily in that order. He also loved words, and discussing them. In his obituary (which he wrote), he said, “Words were precious to him and he favored term limits on the use of commas.” Mostly, Ron Brown had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He liked to laugh. In that obituary, he misspelled the name of a famous wine. Those who know well his penchant for words know that Ron Brown would never make that mistake. Many of his friends think that was his little joke, with that twinkle in his eye.
Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors William F. Lasher (chair) and Edwin R. Sharpe, and Mr. S. Shannon Janes, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs (ret.).