When John F. Kennedy walked the halls of Stanford

Zev Karlin-Neumann
Zev Karlin-Neumann

If you didn’t have a chance to hear ZEV KARLIN-NEUMANN’s student Convocation speech, you might want to read it online.

Karlin-Neumann, whose proud mom is Rabbi PATRICIA KARLIN-NEUMANN of the Office for Religious Life, was chosen as this year’s student Convocation speaker. The selection committee, comprising representatives from New Student Orientation, Student Affairs and University Communications, was impressed by Karlin-Neumann’s compelling subject and easy delivery style.

In his talk, Karlin-Neumann tells the story of discovering that a young John F. Kennedy once briefly audited classes at the Graduate School of Business. He began his speech by quoting from a letter Kennedy wrote to a friend: “Have become very fond of Stanford. Everyone is friendly—the gals are quite attractive—and it’s a very good life.”

According to A Chronology of Stanford University and Its Founders,published by the Stanford Historical Society, Kennedy registered as a graduate student for the fall quarter in September 1940. He lived in a cottage behind a house on Mayfield Avenue and took classes in business, economics and political science. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly after and left campus “around the Christmas holidays.” As a presidential candidate, Kennedy returned to campus in 1960 to deliver a speech to some 4,000 people inside and outside Memorial Auditorium.

Karlin-Neumann had hoped to write his honors thesis on Stanford’s effect on the young man who would eventually become president. Alas, he couldn’t find enough material. Eventually, he turned to a more fruitful study of Kennedy and the Senate, where Karlin-Neumann interned.

Before returning to campus to deliver his speech, Karlin-Neumann was doing research in Boston and Washington, D.C. Just after his speech, he boarded a plane to pursue further research in New Mexico.

Coincidentally, memories of Kennedy’s sister, EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER, also were evoked recently. Shriver transferred to Stanford in 1941 and graduated in 1943. PRESIDENT HENNESSY talked about her commitment to service during Commencement exercises. He expanded on those remarks for his column in the current issue of Stanford magazine.