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Kim Rotzoll, longtime dean of
College of Communications, dies
by Colleen E. Cassity
— Kim B. Rotzoll, recently retired as the dean of the College
of Communications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
died today (Nov. 4) in Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana from complications
related to cancer. He was 68.
Rotzoll, a professor of advertising who specialized in media ethics, led the college from 1992 until Aug.
21 of this year, when he was succeeded by interim dean Ronald Yates.
As an administrator, Rotzoll demonstrated a "love for this college
… that rubbed off on a lot of people," Yates said. "It was his life.
This place was everything to him." He was a very positive thinker,
"always ready to try something new," Yates said, and also
"such a decent, honorable man."
"We will miss him very much," said Nancy Cantor, the chancellor
of the Urbana campus. "Kim was a beloved figure on this campus,
with a door that was always open for students and colleagues, at home
as well as at the office, whether he was teaching, acting as department
head, or most recently as dean of the college. He was generous with
his time and his ideas, and he was devoted to this university."
The College of Communications consists of the departments of journalism and advertising, the Institute
of Communications Research, and the Division
of Broadcasting, including the WILL radio and television stations.
Prior to becoming dean, Rotzoll was the head of the department of advertising
for nine years, and during that time "there was no question it
was the best in the country," Yates said. The department continues
to be regarded as among the best, as do the other three units within
the college, a testament to Rotzoll’s leadership, Yates said.
Rotzoll was born in 1935 and received a bachelor’s degree in advertising
in 1957 from Pennsylvania State University.
He then worked for four years as a television/radio account executive
with Ketchum, MacLeod & Grove Inc. in Pittsburgh and in Columbus,
Ohio, before returning to Penn State for graduate school. In 1965, he
earned a master’s degree in journalism and in 1971 a doctorate
Rotzoll joined the advertising faculty at Illinois that same year. From
1980 to 1983, he was the associate dean of the College of Communications,
and in 1983 was named the head of the department of advertising. That
same year, he also was named research professor in the Institute of
Communications Research and the director of the James Webb Young Fund,
which supports advertising graduate students.
Rotzoll was the co-author, editor or co-editor of six books. He also
had numerous articles published in academic journals or as chapters
in books. In addition to media ethics, his research focused on the study
of advertising as a social and economic institution in society, and
he was an expert on the work of practitioner and critic Howard Luck
Rotzoll became dean at a time of dramatic change for the college, when
it had to rely less on public sources of funding, Yates said. "He
had to go out and become a
fund-raising, development dean … he had a lot of weight on his
shoulders to make sure the college stayed viable and solvent."
He also worked hard at relations with college alumni.
Among the college’s accomplishments during Rotzoll’s tenure
was the establishment of the Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival,
also popularly known as "Ebertfest." The annual festival,
sponsored and organized by the college in cooperation with Chicago Sun-Times
film critic Roger Ebert, celebrated its fifth annual run in April.
"He was just a great movie buff," and played a large role
in getting the festival started, Yates said, so in many ways the festival
is a fitting part of his legacy.
Rotzoll is survived by his wife, Nancy Benson Rotzoll; two sons, Jason
of Champaign, and Keith of Williamsburg, Va.; and two grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or Westminster
Presbyterian Church, 1700 Crescent Drive, Champaign.
A memorial service will be held on a date to be determined.