Former North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Ken­neth G. Ryder, who cham­pi­oned the edu­ca­tional advan­tages of the university’s sig­na­ture co-​​op pro­gram, launched new aca­d­emic units and presided over a rad­ical change in the campus’ phys­ical appear­ance, has died. He was 88.

Ryder was named the fourth pres­i­dent of North­eastern in 1975 and spent some 40 years at the uni­ver­sity in both aca­d­emic and admin­is­tra­tive roles. He began his career at North­eastern in 1949 as an instructor of his­tory and gov­ern­ment and was pro­moted to asso­ciate pro­fessor of his­tory in 1956. In 1958, he was appointed dean of admin­is­tra­tion and in 1971 became the university’s exec­u­tive vice president.

Ryder’s 14-​​year tenure as pres­i­dent of North­eastern was marked by a dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion of both the university’s phys­ical campus and aca­d­emic pro­grams. Over the course of his tenure, North­eastern launched the Col­lege of Com­puter Sci­ence, which was later renamed the Col­lege of Com­puter and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, and estab­lished nearly two-​​dozen new aca­d­emic cen­ters and research institutes.

Much of the suc­cess we have today began under Pres­i­dent Ryder’s lead­er­ship,” Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, wrote in a memo to the uni­ver­sity community.

Ryder cham­pi­oned the value of expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion and was the dri­ving force behind the World Council and Assembly on Coop­er­a­tive Edu­ca­tion, according to a bio­graph­ical his­tory of his pres­i­dency titled “Coming of Age: The Ryder Years.” By the final year of the Ryder admin­is­tra­tion, author Antoinette Fred­erick noted, North­eastern was placing approx­i­mately 9,000 stu­dents in posi­tions with some 3,000 employers.

Ryder valued class­room learning as much as real-​​world expe­ri­ence and was explicit in his belief that teaching should be of utmost impor­tance at North­eastern. As a case in point, he estab­lished the Excel­lence in Teaching Awards in 1979, an honor bestowed upon high-​​achieving faculty.

The phys­ical expan­sion and beau­ti­fi­ca­tion of campus were among Ryder’s other top pri­or­i­ties and accom­plish­ments as pres­i­dent of North­eastern. He was deter­mined, for example, to turn the university’s asphalt-​​covered land­scape of brick build­ings into a greener campus. In one case, a tarmac in front of Churchill Hall became a garden of aza­leas, oaks and rhododendrons.

Ryder also presided over the 1979 pur­chase of Boston Arena from the Com­mon­wealth of Mass­a­chu­setts. Today fans of the Huskies know the building as Matthews Arena and flock to the facility to watch North­eastern hockey and bas­ket­ball games.

Ryder was tire­less in his pur­suit of funding to build Snell Library, securing $13.5 mil­lion from the Depart­ment of Defense and $5 mil­lion from trustee and alumnus George Snell to design the $35 mil­lion, 240,000-square-foot facility. The library offi­cially opened in the fall of 1990, one year after Ryder retired, but, as Fred­erick explained in “The Ryder Years,” “It serves as an appro­priate symbol for the admin­is­tra­tion that planned, designed and oversaw its development.”

Under Ryder’s lead­er­ship, the university’s Board of Trustees voted to divest from com­pa­nies with inter­ests in South Africa. In 1988, the Law School became the first Amer­ican uni­ver­sity to grant South African Nelson Man­dela an hon­orary degree. While still in prison, Man­dela was granted an absentee Doc­torate of Laws for his struggle against apartheid.

Ryder received a bachelor’s degree in his­tory from Boston Uni­ver­sity in 1946 and a master’s in his­tory from Har­vard in 1947. His under­grad­uate studies were inter­rupted by the out­break of World War II. According to Fred­erick in “The Ryder Years,” he went into active ser­vice in 1944 as an officer on a landing craft in the Pacific the­ater, where he par­tic­i­pated in the landing at Okinawa.

His mil­i­tary ser­vice shaped the focus of his aca­d­emic career and his philo­soph­ical out­look on resolving con­flicts. “It made me realize I never wanted to fight with anyone,” he recalled in “The Ryder Years.” “The war con­firmed that sense in me — that issues can be set­tled by discussion.”