Bone, Robert Gehlmann (1906-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Bone, Robert Gehlmann (1906-)

Historical Note:

Robert Gehlmann Bone (1906-1991) was instructor of history (1934-42), professor of history (1951-56), director of the Division of Special Services for War Vets (1947-52), director of the Division of General Studies (1946-52), and Assistant Provost (1954-56) at the University of Illinois (UI). He is most widely remembered for his administrative work and his influential tenure as president of Illinois State University (ISU) (1956-67).

Bone was born to parents Alice (nee Gehlmann) and Eugene Bone in Springfield, Illinois, in 1906. He earned a B.A., from the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1928, and he taught at the American School in Egypt (1928-31), serving as acting director from 1930 to 1931. Bone earned a master's degree (1932) and a PhD (1937) in history from the UI and was professor of history at Lincoln College (1932-34) before joining the History Department at UI in 1934 as instructor. During his service in the U.S. Army during WWII, he established and headed the history department (1945-46) at Shrivenham American University, a United States G.I. school in England. In 1956, he left the UI to become the ninth president of Illinois State University (ISU) (1956-67). During his tenure at ISU, Bone oversaw the school's name change from Illinois State Normal University. He also helped to grow the university, tripling enrollment, expanding campus, and increasing program offerings. In recognition of his career as historian, educator, and administrator, he was awarded honorary doctorates from Lincoln College (1966) and Illinois State University (1968).

Bone married Karin Levanius in 1944, and they had two sons, John and Robert, Jr. Bone retired from ISU in 1967 and was visiting professor at the College of Wooster from 1969 to 1971. He died on January 13, 1991.


"Robert G. Bone," Milner Library, accessed May 28, 2020,

David Silverman, "Robert Bone, Former Illinois State President," Chicago Tribune, January 14, 1991,

â??Robert Bone, former ISU president, dies,â? Special Report of the News and Publications Service, Illinois State University, vol. 26, no. 27 (January 14, 1991).

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