Dr. Laurel A. Grotzinger obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Head-and-shoulders photo of Laurel A. Grotzinger.

Laurel A. Grotzinger

Dr. Laurel A. Grotzinger, professor emeritus of University Libraries and a former administrator at Western Michigan University, died Dec. 15. She was 82.

Grotzinger, of Kalamazoo, joined the WMU faculty in 1964 and retired in 2015 after nearly 51 years of service to the University. During her long career, she held several high-profile administrative positions and racked up some impressive firsts.

Laurel A. Grotzinger

The Minnesota native started her WMU career teaching in the School of Library and Information Science, rising from assistant to full professor in just four years. She quickly established a strong scholarly record in the area of library history, focusing especially on the emerging role of women in the discipline at the end of the 19th century. Twenty-first-century scholars often cite her as a pioneer in advocating women as librarian trailblazers a century ago.

Grotzinger served the library and information science school as assistant director from 1966 to 1972 and as interim director from 1982 until WMU closed the unit in 1985. She was instrumental in developing the accredited Master of Science in Librarianship as well as such associated programs as three sixth-year degrees, and specializations or degrees in school library media, information science, map librarianship and library administration.

Her career took another pioneering turn in 1979 when Grotzinger was named dean of the Graduate College and became the first woman to be appointed an academic dean at WMU. Under her 13-year tenure, WMU significantly expanded its doctoral degree programs as well as strengthened and institutionalized its development as a major research university.

Notably, that growth occurred while Grotzinger concurrently served for seven years as the University's chief research officer as well as for multiple years as administrative head of the graduate science education unit and the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

Grotzinger was active on campus as a faculty member, serving as chair of the Graduate Studies Council for 13 years as well as on many other councils and committees involved with developing WMU's reputation in graduate education and research. She also served as vice president of the Faculty Senate from 1971 to 1972 and presided over the organization from 1973 to 1975.

Off campus, Grotzinger was elected to the Kalamazoo Public Library Board of Trustees and served stints as its vice president and president in the early 1990s. She also served as president of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters twice and at one period or another over the years, was an active member of a dozen professional associations focused on libraries and library and information science, higher education, research, and university administration.

Grotzinger earned a bachelor's degree from Carleton College and a master's and doctoral degree from the University of Illinois.

She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the U of I Graduate School of Library Science. At the time of her retirement, she had been a reference services librarian and professor of University Libraries since 1993.


No service information has been publicized.


The family obituary and message book are available by visiting lesliefuneralhome.com.