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Something fishy about Senate farewell to Kennedy
STANFORD -- The Faculty Senate told Donald Kennedy to "go fish" at their final meeting of the academic year and his last meeting in that assembly as Stanford's president on Thursday, June 11.
Kennedy, who has heard worse from senators over 12 years, was not offended - in fact, he appeared absolutely delighted with the going-away presents given to him by the senate: a fly-fishing rod that breaks down into five sections, a reel and other items related to his beloved hobby.
"This present is absolutely perfect," Kennedy said. "I would be glad to be invited back from time to time to report on its performance.
"To the extent that I fail with it, I will try very hard not to blame you," he said to laughter.
Making presentations during the tribute were senators Nancy Packer, who read aloud a touching and humorous resolution in Kennedy's honor (see text in Faculty Senate Report); Albert Hastorf, who presented the rod (a "poacher's special," he called it); and David M. Kennedy, who recalled a whirlwind day of fund- raising and speech-making in Dallas several years ago.
"It was a day like all days, except that I was there," the history professor said.
One Kennedy exhausted, another in high gear
He told the senate of the day's dizzying schedule, which started at 5 a.m. one day and ended about the same time the next day, when the delegation returned to campus.
The schedule was filled with speaking engagements and meetings, as well as impromptu gatherings in airports and hotel lobbies, where numerous people recognized and approached the president "as if he were Robert Redford," David Kennedy said.
Finally, on the way back from the airport, David Kennedy asked the driver to take him home so he could shower and get a few hours' much-needed rest. Donald Kennedy, meanwhile, in the back seat dealing with "a 13-inch stack of mail," asked to be taken directly to his office and asked the driver to return at 5 that afternoon to take him to San Francisco for yet another speaking engagement.
"I offer this as a typical day," David Kennedy said. "It represented the kind of energy and commitment and phenomenal dedication Don [has] brought to the job of president of this university for the last 12 years."
As Kennedy unwrapped the rod, which came in a carrying case that has two compartments, Hastorf mentioned the 23rd Psalm and offered a few suggestions for the empty compartment.
"One possibility is for a wading staff," Hastorf said. "But your life depends on your wading staff, so we're not picking out that one for you; you should pick it out for yourself.
"But this allows me to end with the fact that you can say to yourself, thinking about the senate, 'thy rod and thy staff. . .' " Hastorf said to prolonged laughter.
Other gifts included a T-shirt that read, "Fish Worship - Is It Wrong?" and a poster of the book cover from one of Kennedy's favorite works, Norman McLean's A River Runs Through It.
Kennedy thanks critics
The president made a brief address to the senate before it adjourned for a reception in his honor at the Faculty Club. In it, he reminded the legislative body of its unique role and offered words of praise for some of his adversaries.
"I do want to say, before leaving this senate, we forget how rare it is," Kennedy said. "I don't believe there is another piece of academic governance in the United States like this.
"(Former President) Dick Lyman told me once, and I have never found anything to contradict this, that there was no other faculty legislative body to which the president and provost were publicly accountable - all comers, all questions - every couple of weeks, and I think it's terrific. It reminds us that it is the faculty that is the university."
To his critics over the years, Kennedy said: "There have been things said in the senate that I haven't wanted to hear. But for better or worse, it's good for people to hear things they don't want to hear.
"I think of Mary Wack's hard-hitting but brilliant report on the state of the humanities, which made Gerry [Lieberman, provost] and I think differently about a number of things; I think about Ross Shachter's advocacy for the undergraduate residential education; I think about Tony Siegman's challenging but always very statesman-like views on the indirect costs and the necessity to view those more broadly in the institution; and I also think of Ron Rebholz's repeated urgings that we remember to do the right thing.
"That's been a real important element in the life of this place, and we would have been much poorer without it," the president said in conclusion. "I'm sorry Ron isn't here to hear it, but you'll tell him. It's been a real pleasure."
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