Former EMU provost, current professor dies at 63

Jack Kay, who had formerly served as Eastern Michigan University's provost and executive vice president, died at 63 on Friday after a prolonged illness, the university said in a statement.

Kay was a distinguished faculty member at Eastern known for his expertise on hate crimes and communication.

“Dr. Kay was an exceptional teacher-scholar who spent more than 30 years in academics focusing on communications with nationally known expertise on extremist groups,” president Susan Martin said in the statement. “While provost at Eastern, he worked tirelessly to improve student success, increase international activity and lead campus dialogue on issues such as race and diversity. As an administrator and professor, Dr. Kay was a highly respected member of the Eastern Michigan University community and he will be greatly missed.”

Kay was named EMU’s provost in 2009 and served in that position for two years. In that time he increased the university’s engagement in international activity, allocating more than $200,000 to help fund grants that advance international activity by faculty and students.

Following his tenure as provost and executive vice president, Kay worked in EMU’s department of communication, media and theatre arts as a professor.

As a professor, Kay focused on political communication, extremist communication and communication and social justice. He conducted research on extremist groups including the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations and Neo-Nazi Skinheads.

Kay has accumulated several accolades over the course of his career including the Special Recognition Award, Student Veterans of America, University of Michigan-Flint chapter, 2009; Achievement Award, Michigan Association of Speech Communication, 2001; and Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, Wayne State University, 1998.

Kay is survived by his wife Ruth and one daughter.

Services will be arranged by Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield. They can be reached via phone at (248) 569-0020.

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