Roy A. Austensen, 74, of Valparaiso, Ind., died Aug. 12, 2016. Born in Berwyn, Ill. in 1942, he was the son of the late Edna and Austin Austensen. Professor Austensen earned his bachelor’s in education from Concordia College, River Forest, Ill., a master’s and Ph.D. in history from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and did additional graduate study as a Fulbright fellow at the University of Vienna.
In 1992, he began his career at Valpo, serving as the University’s first provost and vice president of Academic Affairs until 2009. Professor Austensen also served as acting chief financial officer from 1994–1996, acting president during the summer of 2002, and acting dean of the College of Business from 2011–2012. He held the position of professor of history until he retired in May 2014 and was named senior research professor of history. In 2014, Professor Austensen received the Lumen Christi Medal, Valparaiso University’s highest award, to recognize his efforts to strengthen Valpo’s academic programs. He also received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 2009.
While at Valpo, Professor Austensen strengthened the quality of the teaching faculty, guided formation of signature academic programs, led the University through two highly successful accreditation reviews, led formation of a summer orientation program, and directed expansion of international programs. In addition to being the chief academic officer, he oversaw student affairs, business and financial affairs, admission and financial aid, and electronic information services.
Professor Austensen advocated for global education and international studies and was a champion for Christian higher education. He was a driving force behind efforts that led to Valparaiso University being awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.
A lifelong Lutheran, Professor Austensen embodied Valparaiso University’s unique mission, identity, and ethos. He was an internationally recognized scholar with research interests in Austrian history and culture, German unification in the 19th and 20th centuries, and European diplomacy.
Professor Austensen was active in the greater Valparaiso community, serving as a member of the Valparaiso Rotary Club since 1997 and in various leadership roles within the Valparaiso United Way from 1998–2013. He enjoyed German music, German-made cars, swimming, riding his bicycle, writing, and photography.
Professor Austensen is survived by his wife of 50 years, Anne-Marie Austensen, and three children.