William Gerberding dies at 85; longtime University of Washington head

William P. Gerberding, UCLA administrator who became president of the University of Washington, dies at 85

William Gerberding, president of the University of Washington during a tumultuous era in the 1980s and early '90s when the university faced state budget cuts and football-team sanctions, died Saturday in Seattle. He was 85.

The University of Washington announced his death but did not provide the cause.

Gerberding was the longest-serving president in the university's history. He presided over the state's flagship institution at a time when the university grew to greater national prominence and became known for the quality and size of its research arm and its ability to raise private dollars.

But he was also criticized at times for pulling down a salary that some considered excessive and for being out of touch with students and faculty. During his presidency, UW football coach Don James resigned over a lack of support from Gerberding after sanctions were leveled against the team by the Pac-10 Conference (now Pac-12) and the NCAA.

Gerberding, who served from 1979 to 1995, was president at a time when a squeeze on the state budget led to round after round of budget-cutting measures. In response, in 1989, he helped lead a $250-million campaign to raise private support, something that had never before been tried at the school.

"Bill left an indelible imprint on the university," UW President Michael Young said in a statement. "There was no better match between his steadfast quest for excellence and a university of this caliber striving to achieve its best every day."

During Gerberding's tenure, four Nobel Prizes were awarded to faculty, several new buildings were constructed, and the university raised $284 million in private funds.

Before Washington, Gerberding was a professor at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., and then at UCLA, where he was chairman of the political science department. He became vice president of academic affairs at Occidental College in 1972. In 1975, he became vice chancellor at UCLA, and in 1978 moved on to become chancellor at the University of Illinois.

Gerberding was born Sept. 9, 1929, in Fargo, N.D. He earned a bachelor's degree from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., and a master's and doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth; four children and four grandchildren.

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