By the time of his death, in 1982 at the age of 60, Robert F. Ray--then Dean of Continuing Education at the University of Iowa--had become a leader in the field of adult and continuing education. He conceptualized, articulated, and advanced the cause, recognition, and expansion of continuing higher education on virtually all fronts during his dynamic and prolific career.
Dr. Ray graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Coe College in 1944 and received both his M.A. and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He began his professional career working for the Governor of New York but returned to his alma mater to establish and direct the Institute of Public Affairs. In 1961, he was named Dean of Special Services and, two years later, Dean of Extension Services.
Dr. Ray was a two-term member and Chair of the National Advisory Council of Continuing Education under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He served as Chair of the Council on Extension and Continuing Education for the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. For many years, he was a member--and Chair--of the North Central Accreditation Association in which he took a strong advocacy position for the recognition and integration of public service by universities. He served on the Big Ten Athletic Council--a unique appointment for one outside the traditional academic mainstream--and he was President and member of the Executive Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. His high profile led him to be a widely sought speaker and keynoter at major conferences and a frequent and eloquent congressional witness on continuing education issues.
He was an active member of the National University Continuing Education Association (NUCEA), having served on almost every standing committee and occupying all the chairs of the association, including the presidency. For his many contributions to the field and to his professional organization, he received NUCEA’s Julius Nolte Award. The Robert F. Ray Memorial Lecture Series, established in 1985, continues to recognize and honor his achievements in the field.
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