Former UK official stayed active in the classroom

A longtime advocate of equal rights and former vice chancellor of minority affairs, Mr. William C. Parker, died this week. He was 83.

Mr. Parker, a prominent member of the Lexington and UK community, who served the university from 1984 through 1990, suffered a heart attack on Sunday.

“All of us who are part of the University of Kentucky family were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. William C. Parker,” President Lee Todd said in a statement released by UK. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. As vice chancellor for minority affairs at UK, Dr. Parker was a strong voice for progress and action for the entire university community, but particularly for African-American students, faculty and staff.”

Mr. Parker’s grandson, Lamin Swan, said Mr. Parker suffered a massive heart attack on Sunday while giving a presentation at the Kentucky Humanities Council Retreat in Cumberland Falls.Swann, a social work junior, said Mr. Parker died doing what he loved: teaching.

Born in Cairo, Ill., Mr. Parker studied and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Illinois State University and held a doctorate in psychology from Columbia Pacific University.

Mr. Parker spent his time before coming to UK teaching at several schools in the Midwest and at Oberlin College in Ohio.

As vice chancellor of minority affairs at UK, Mr. Parker was responsible for attracting and retaining minority students, as well as advising on minority affairs.

“(Mr. Parker’s) legacy lives on at UK through the Parker Scholarships, which recognize students not only for their academic excellence but also their commitment to leadership, community and diversity,” Todd said.

Retiring in 1990 at the age of 65, Mr. Parker started Parker & Parker, a human-resources-development consulting firm. Swann said his grandfather never truly retired.

“While it was on paper at UK that he was retired because he reached the age of 65, he traveled and continued to teach from that day on.”

At the time of his death, Mr. Parker was an adjunct professor at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

Swann said that his grandfather touched people everywhere. While Swan was taking a cab to his grandparents’ house, the driver overheard him speaking about the funeral arrangements.

“The driver asked if my grandfather passed away,” Swann said. “When I responded ‘yes,’ he said that he had waited on him at the UK Faculty Club.”

“He was a good man,” the driver told Swann.

A memorial service for Parker will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 5, at Memorial Hall.