By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sheldon Hackney, who served as president of the University of Pennsylvania in the 1980s and ’90s, has died.

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The university says Hackney died yesterday of Lou Gehrig’s disease at his home on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.  He was 79.

Hackney was Penn’s president from 1981 until 1993, when he left to become chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Hackney’s tenure was tarnished in 1993 when he was criticized for mishandling an incident in which a student called a group of black sorority members “water buffalo.”

He returned to teaching history at Penn in 1997, and earned a Lindback Award for distinguished teaching.  He retired in 2010.

In a statement, Penn president Amy Gutmann called Hackney a “true gentleman scholar,” and one of the most beloved presidents in Penn’s history.

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