Valued mentor and former Associate Dean Wharton passes at age 83

Keith Wharton, a former associate dean in the College of Agriculture from the 1970s well into the 1990s passed away suddenly on January 4 at the age of 83. In addition to serving as associate dean, he served multiple times as acting dean of the college and concluded his career as professor of rhetoric. Wharton also was a valuable mentor to many students and faculty interested in teaching, learning, leadership, and life in general. He was a quiet, thoughtful person who, as one colleague expressed, brought “a calm presence to the sometimes chaotic academic world.” During his academic career he received many awards and in 1988 served as the chairman of Resident Instruction Commission of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grand College (RICOP). He grew up in the west Texas oil fields around Kermit, got his B.S. degree in 1956 at what is now the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP), and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in educational measurement and research from the University of Northern Colorado. While at UTEP, he was an all-conference tackle who played on the football teams that won the 1954 and 1955 Sun Bowl games. As an undergraduate, he was voted into the Who’s Who Among Students. Upon graduating from UTEP, he proudly served on active duty as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Wharton is survived by his spouse Barbara, of 61 years, an adult son and daughter, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service and reception will be planned for next spring to remember and honor Wharton for his contributions to college programs and as a great mentor and colleague. Condolences may be sent to Barbara Wharton at 7143 Arthur Dr., Woodbury, MN 55125.