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Lyon College community mourns passing of President Emeritus Dr. Walter Roettger

Lyon College President Emeritus Dr. Walter Roettger has died.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Lyon College President Emeritus Dr. Walter Roettger on Sunday in Syracuse, New York,” the college said in a media release.

According to the release, the college noted:

“Dr. Roettger served as president of Lyon College from 1998 to 2009 and was a trailblazer here at Lyon and in the higher education community.

“Under Dr. Roettger’s leadership, Lyon earned national recognition for its academic excellence, increased enrollment, added new academic majors, built several new buildings including the Derby Center for Science and Mathematics, finished one capital campaign and launched another, increased the size of its faculty, created new varsity athletic programs, and created the Lyon Experience.”

During Dr. Roettger’s 11 years at the college, Lyon faculty were named Arkansas Professors of the Year nine times. He also strengthened the College’s ties with the community, beginning with the College Opportunity Program, which Lyon created with the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB). Lyon has since extended this partnership to other public two-year colleges in the region, including Ozarka College, Arkansas State University at Newport, and Arkansas State University at Beebe.

While president of Lyon, Dr. Roettger served on numerous local, state, and national boards. He served as chair of the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Batesville Economic Development Foundation. He served as a member of the Institutional Certification Advisory Committee of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the President’s Council of the Association of Governing Boards, the Accreditation Review Committee of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Committee on Student Aid of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. He was also treasurer of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities and a member of its Board of Directors. He served twice as chairman of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities and was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and a Rotarian.

Dr. Roettger earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado. He taught at a number of institutions, including Central College in Iowa, Emporia State University in Kansas and Drake University in Iowa. Beginning in 1982, he began an administrative career in higher education that led to leadership positions at the University of Hartford, Bryant University, and Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where he was a vice president and dean of the faculty.

Following his retirement from Lyon, he served as provost and vice president for academic affairs of SUNY Oswego and as an educational leadership consultant at the Registry for College and University Presidents.

Dr. Roettger was born in Champaign, Ill., where his father, a former major league baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals, was the head baseball coach at the University of Illinois. 

Dr. Roettger is survived by his wife, Margaret “Peggy” Roettger, former director of alumni and parent services at Lyon, and son, Dan.

Lyon College will fly its flags at half-staff this week in honor and in memory of Dr. Roettger.

Image: Lyon College

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