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Barbara Palmer, News Service (650) 724-6184; e-mail:

Keith Guy, Department of Housing and Dining Services, (650) 724-3077

Housing and Dining Services head Keith Guy to retire

Here's one sign that when Keith Guy retires Aug. 31, the associate vice provost for student housing and dining services really plans to take it easy: He can't put his hands on a copy of his resume.

"My fantasy has always been to retire when I'm 55," said the 57-year-old Guy. "I'm pretty close."

His wife, Phyllis Guy, left her job as a computer analyst at Information Technology Systems and Services in February. They've sold their house in San Carlos and are planning a move to Anacortes, Wash., on the Pacific Coast. They'll boat, travel and follow their interests, Guy said. "The plan is in place."

Putting ambitious plans into place has been a hallmark of Guy's 15 years at Stanford. Since 1986, the university has added 2,014 new beds and launched a Capital Improvement Program that has renovated 80 percent of the campus's older dormitories. Guy has overseen the "virtual restoration of the whole housing system," said Tim Warner, vice provost for budget and auxiliaries management.

And along with major upgrades and renovations to campus dining halls, Guy has transformed the way residential students eat. The "Housing and Food Services" department changed its name to "Housing and Dining Services" in 1993, as staff aspired to a higher level of quality. Under Guy's direction, staff members recruited chefs trained in culinary schools and replaced "cook and park" steam tables with grills and other stations where food is prepared just before it's served.

"Stanford's housing and dining programs are national models, largely due to Keith's vision and ingenuity," said James Montoya, vice provost for student affairs.

Guy oversees an $80 million business, including the student housing and dining program, concessions, conferences and catering. The Stanford housing program is one of the largest in the United States, making Guy "Northern California's biggest landlord," Warner said. "Keith is sort of the consummate professional in this business."

Guy graduated in 1968 from Colorado State University with a degree in education and began his higher education career at Western Washington University. He served as the director of university residences there before moving to Stanford in 1986.

Soon after, the Rains Houses graduate student apartments were completed, adding about 800 beds for graduate students. When new Manzanita Court undergraduate housing opened, supply and demand seemed to be in balance, Guy said. But while the new apartments eased the housing pressure, they underscored the disparity between the new construction and the poor condition of the older dormitories, which had been "marginally maintained for many years," he said. "It was a system that needed things done."

The Capital Improvement Program, conceived as a 10-year plan, which now has stretched to 15 to 17 years, was launched in 1991, Guy said. Most of the older dormitories have gotten "a comprehensive re-do," from floor to roof, including the infrastructure, he said.

Silicon Valley's boom and the scarcity of affordable local housing also posed major challenges during Guy's tenure. As off-campus rents jumped by as much as 30 percent a year, the number of students requesting campus housing skyrocketed as well.

"The demand in 1997 caught us a little off guard," Guy said. His office scrambled to find housing assignments for students by putting two students in rooms designed for one and converting every available space to housing.

The university currently houses 680 students in apartments off campus, leased in 34 separate locations from Sunnyvale to Redwood City.

The housing crisis has changed Guy's department from being reactive to proactive, he said. The department's ultimate goal is to provide housing to 95 percent of undergraduate students and 70 percent of graduate students, which he estimates would meet the demand for services. "It could be 2008 or 2009 before we get it all done," he said.

Although it has been challenging, Stanford's level of commitment to housing students and creating a living environment where intellectual life can flourish is one of the things that attracted Guy here in the first place.

"I've worked in the university, as compared to the private sector, because I fundamentally believe in universities and education and what educated people can do for the country and the world," he said. As for his department, "the better we help students minimize hassles, the better we let them concentrate on their studies."

He said he'll miss the busyness of his office life when he leaves and his colleagues' enthusiasm and drive to be the best. "I've been blessed with a full professional life," he said.

"[Guy] has led the organization well, with a good deal of grace," Warner said. "I'm sorry to see him leave Stanford. But it's nice to be able to retire early."


By Barbara Palmer

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