Faculty + Staff

In Memoriam: Penny Hein-Unruh, tireless advocate for student success


Penelope (Penny) Hein-Unruh, former assistant vice provost for academic advising in UCLA's College of Letters and Science, who worked tirelessly to help students succeed, died May 8 in her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by members of her immediate family. She was 62, and had battled an aggressive form of cancer for 18 months.

Hein-Unruh was married to David Unruh, former UCLA assistant provost for academic program development. Their daughter, Whitney, is a UCLA graduate.

A staunch supporter of early childhood education, which she considered the cornerstone of success for children of all socioeconomic levels, Hein-Unruh developed and led preschool programs at UC Davis. Later, at UCLA, she was the founding director of the Infant Development Program in the Department of Psychology. Hein-Unruh went on to join the College at UCLA, where she served in several capacities and was known for being uniquely skilled in helping students navigate the complexities of UCLA. She held UCLA Athletics close to her heart — particularly women's soccer — and dedicated herself to helping all athletes succeed academically.

Devoted to UCLA, Hein-Unruh retired reluctantly last Oct. 1, due to the demands of dealing with her illness.  

She was an active member of Westwood Presbyterian Church, where she was a strong supporter of the Westwood Presbyterian Preschool, to which she devoted a substantial portion of her retirement savings to create a scholarship program to benefit working and single parents. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the program: Penelope Hein Unruh Scholarship Fund, Westwood Presbyterian Church, 10822 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, California, 90024.

Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced at a later date.

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