Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

Iranian poet’s death sparks Stanford recollections

August 22nd, 2014
Iranian poet Simin Behbahani attends a meeting on women's rights, in Tehran, Iran.

Iranian poet Simin Behbahani in a 2007 photo (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

When Iranian poet SIMIN BEHBAHANI died on Aug. 19 at age 87, it rekindled fond remembrances of her numerous visits to the Stanford campus.

An icon of the Iranian literary community, Behbahani was dubbed the “lioness of Iran.” Her poems are quoted like aphorisms and proverbs in her country.

ABBAS MILANI, director of the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, said Behbahani visited Stanford several times.

“Hers was a voice of poetic innovation and political independence that defied constraints and broke cultural barriers,” he said.

In 2008, Behbahani won Stanford’s Bita Prize for Literature and Freedom, a $10,000 award that supports teaching, research and scholarship related to Iran and Persian heritage.

“When we launched the Bita Prize,” Milani said, “there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she, more than any other living Iranian artist, deserved to be its first recipient.”

He recalled the “gracefully defiant dignity of her character, her relentless defense of artistic freedom and the power and poignancy of her poetry.” It left an “enduring impact,” Milani said, on all at Stanford who heard Behbahani talk or read her poetry.

In her work – she began writing at age 12 – Behbahani explored Persian verse forms. She focused on the traditional ghazal form, which she elevated to new lyrical heights – but with a modern voice and perspective, Milani said.

A leading dissident, she won numerous awards for her struggle for freedom of expression in Iran, and was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature. The Iranian government once barred her from leaving the country.

Milani said on her first visit to Stanford, Behbahani read in Persian her prose poem about the “unrealized dreams” of the 1979 revolution in Iran and the problems of censorship.

“When she finished,” Milani said, “George P. Shultz [now the Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution], who was in the audience, came to the podium and said, ‘Though I speak no Persian, I was moved to tears by the sincerity and power of your voice.’”

Milani said that particular prose poem will soon be published in a collection of essays he has edited with Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.


Medical community mourns loss of leading international HIV/AIDS researcher

July 20th, 2014

International AIDS researcher Joep Lange. (Photo: Peter Lowie/Associated Press)

Stanford researchers specializing in HIV/AIDS mourned the loss Friday of Dutch scientist JOEP LANGE, a leading AIDS researcher who died in the Malaysia Airlines crash Thursday in the Ukraine. Lange, a virologist, was particularly well-known for his work in helping expand access to antiretroviral therapy in developing countries. He was among dozens of people on the ill-fated flight who were heading to the 20th International AIDS Conference that opened Sunday in Melbourne, Australia.

“We are all in a state of shocked disbelief here in Melbourne at the tragic loss of one of the giants in the global fight against AIDS and HIV,” ANDREW ZOLOPA,  professor of medicine at Stanford, told RUTHANN RICHTER, director of media relations at the School of Medicine, in an e-mail from the conference site.  “I have known Joep Lange for more than 25 years – he was a friend and a colleague.  Joep was one of the early leaders in our field to push for expanded treatment around the globe – and in particular treatment for Africa and Asia… The world has lost a major figure who did so much good in his quiet but determined manner.  I am shocked by this senseless act of violence. What a terrible tragedy.”

DAVID KATZENSTEIN, also an HIV specialist at Stanford, learned of the death while in Zimbabwe, where he has a longstanding project on preventing transmission of HIV from mother to child. He said Lange, a friend and mentor, had been a “tireless advocate for better treatment for people living with HIV in resource-limited settings. He was universally respected and frequently honored as a real pioneer in early AIDS prevention and treatment.” In 2001, Lange founded the PharmAccess Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Amsterdam, which aims to improve access to HIV therapy in developing countries. He continued to direct the group until his death.

Lange served as president of the International AIDS Society from 2002 to 2004 and had been a consultant to the World Health Organization, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. He led several important clinical trials in Europe, Asia and Africa and played a key role in many NIH-sponsored studies, said Katzenstein, a professor of medicine.

“He was a gentle, thoughtful and caring physician-scientist with a keen sense of humor and a quick and gentle wit. He was constantly absorbing, teaching and thinking about the human (and primate) condition and psychology,” Katzenstein told Richter. “He was much loved and will be sorely missed.

Richter wrote the original post in the Medical School’s SCOPE blog.


World’s first radio sundial dedicated in memory of Ron Bracewell

October 2nd, 2013

bracewell_sundialThe world’s first and only radio sundial has been erected in memory of RON BRACEWELL, a professor of electrical engineering and a pioneer in radio astronomy. The sundial was unveiled at the Very Large Array (VLA) Radio Telescope Observatory in New Mexico. It was constructed using pieces of a famous radio telescope that Bracewell built near the Stanford campus.

Bracewell, who died in 2007, was a pioneer in the transition from giant dish antennae to radio telescopes comprised of large-scale arrays of antennae.

In 1961, he installed 32 dish antennae at Site 515 – an area west of campus near Alpine Road – to measure the sun’s temperature. The array, which Bracewell called “Heliopolis,” was one of the first in the world. NASA used the daily maps of solar activity it produced to plan the first moon landing.

“Since its humble beginnings, radio astronomy has become a very active field. Professor Bracewell was one of the heroes of the field,” said DAVID B. LEESON, a consulting professor of electrical engineering and one of the speakers at the dedication ceremony. “Modern giant arrays like the VLA owe their conceptual design to Bracewell’s experimental and mathematical vision.”


Ronald Bracewell (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

The radio sundial at the VLA was constructed using 10 of the concrete pillars that held the Heliopolis antenna dishes. (The array was dismantled several years ago.)

In addition to aligning with markers that tell the time of day, the shadow cast by the Bracewell Sundial’s gnomon – the center object of the sundial – will also indicate the approximate time of year. It will also fall on markers that point to important dates in the history of radio astronomy and to solar noon at other observatories.

And, unlike any other sundial in the world, it will also allow visitors to locate the approximate position in the sky of three celestial objects that played important roles in radio astronomy – two distant galaxies and the remains of an exploded star in the Milky Way.


Al Gore dedicates bench in memory of Stephen Schneider

April 25th, 2013

Former Vice President AL GORE was on campus Tuesday to remember a friend. Gore spoke at a private ceremony dedicating a stone bench in the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden in memory of renowned climate scientist STEPHEN SCHNEIDER, a former Stanford biology professor and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, who died in 2010. Gore also spoke later that day, giving the inaugural Stephen H. Schneider Memorial Lecture.

Schneider and Gore worked together on several projects and shared, along with Schneider’s colleagues on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”

Before Gore spoke, Schneider’s widow, TERRY ROOT, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute and frequent scientific collaborator with Schneider, thanked Schneider’s friends.

A bench dedicated to Stephen H. Schneider sits in the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. An engraving reads, ''Teach your children well.'' At right, Terry Root, Schneider's widow and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, leaves a stone at the bench.

“I promised I wasn’t going to cry,” she said through the onset of tears, throwing up her arms. Then, the Rev. Canon SALLY G. BINGHAM, president of climate change advocacy group Interfaith Power and Light, compared Schneider to Old Testament prophets. “He raged on about drought, fires, floods, rising seas with the spread of disease unless we changed our ways.” Although Schneider was “not a believer,” Bingham said, he was among a small number of scientists willing to include religion in the climate change dialogue and to emphasize the moral issues involved.

“He was a force of nature,” Gore said of Schneider. “He was sui generis.” Schneider inspired others, Gore noted, with “his passion, his commitment, his stamina, his relentless desire to keep working for the truth and to get the message out.”

Gore recalled first seeing Schneider on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the mid-1970s, when climate change had barely made it into the American consciousness. Schneider’s work to raise awareness of the issue was “awe inspiring,” Gore said. “There are very few people in history as successful as Steve was in helping to protect that only home we have ever known.”

After Gore’s comments, Stanford Woods Institute Co-Director JEFF KOSEFF wrapped up the proceedings. He called Schneider a “mensch,” a Yiddish term that Koseff translated as “a person you want to be around because he or she makes you feel genuine and whole. A mensch makes you feel good about yourself and what you do, lifts up those around him or her. A mensch inspires [people] to do good, to heal the world.”

Koseff paused to imagine Schneider asking him if he could come up with a slogan for the day’s event. “I said, ‘Yes, I can, Steve. We’re dedicating a bench for a mensch.’”

Watch a video montage of Schneider discussing climate change.

ROB JORDAN, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Stanford Athletics remembers Peter Sauer

July 11th, 2012

PETER SAUER, a co-captain and starter on the 1998 Stanford Final Four basketball team, collapsed and died Sunday night after he fell and hit his head on the concrete court during a pickup basketball game in White Plains, N.Y. He was 35.

The outgoing Sauer, who played four seasons for the Cardinal and graduated with an economics degree in 1999, was part of a five-man recruiting class that played in the NCAA Tournament four consecutive years and won the Pac-10 title in 1999.

“Everyone in the Stanford community is deeply saddened by the passing of Peter Sauer,” said JOHNNY DAWKINS, Stanford’s Anne and Tony Joseph Director of Men’s Basketball. “Peter was a tremendous individual and a devoted husband and father. He was very passionate about Stanford and our basketball program. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Amanda, and their three children.”

Sauer was in attendance during Stanford’s NIT championship run at Madison Square Garden in March, and prior to one of the games watched practice before speaking briefly to the team. Sauer, a former Bank of America executive, led an early-morning tour of the bank’s corporate headquarters the following day.

“Meeting him for the first time, you could easily see how invested he was in this program and, really, all of Stanford athletics,” said Dawkins. “Peter truly embodied what it meant to be a Stanford student-athlete. He spoke to our guys about taking full advantage of their opportunities and how attending Stanford is a lifetime decision.”

In the video below, Sauer talked about how the NIT tournament was a good building block for the Cardinal men’s basketball program.

Read the full announcement on the Athletics website.

Statement by Stanford President John Hennessy on the legacy of Steve Jobs

October 6th, 2011

“Steve Jobs was an extraordinary man, and I am deeply saddened to learn of his death. A pioneer in the computer industry, his creativity and vision are legend. But he was also a great communicator, who was able to cultivate innovation in others. When he spoke at Stanford’s 2005 Commencement, he told our students that the key to doing great work is to love what you do. Steve Jobs loved what he did, and he inspired us all to think differently. He will be profoundly missed.”

- President John L. Hennessy, Oct. 5, 2011

Filled to the rafters

September 11th, 2011

Photo courtesy The Stanford Daily

The voices of the Peninsula choral community and a standing-room-only crowd filled Stanford Memorial Church on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. Led by Schola Cantorum, an 80-member chorus based in Mountain View, and in partnership with the university’s Office for Religious Life and Department of Music, singers and musicians from throughout the Bay Area paid tribute to those who lost their lives in and those who responded to the terrorist attacks 10 years ago. Gregory Wait, conductor and music director of Schola Cantorum and the director of vocal studies in the Stanford Department of Music, conducted the performance of  Mozart’s Requiem in D minor.

Paul Costello remembers Jack LaLanne

January 25th, 2011

jumpin_jack_mainThree years ago, PAUL COSTELLO, executive director of communications and public affairs at the School of Medicine, interviewed fitness guru Jack LaLanne for a Stanford Medicine magazine issue devoted to the topic of longevity.

“I found him to be indefatigable, and I thought then perhaps he really would never die,” Costello wrote of LaLanne, who died over the weekend at age 96.

Read Costello’s full post in the School of Medicine’s Scope blog, which links to the 2008 interview.

Stanford’s connection to ‘Dancing with the Stars’

November 17th, 2010

Dancing with the Stars may not be the height of intellectual fare, but in some corners of the Stanford campus it’s must-see TV, or at least a guilty pleasure. As of last night, the finalists in the competition included Bristol Palin, daughter of former Republican veep candidate Sarah;  somewhat grown-up child actor Kyle Massey; and actress JENNIFER GREY. To most of America, Grey is probably best known for her role in Dirty Dancing. Some may even know that she is the daughter of actor, singer and dancer Joel Grey. Many may not know that she is the daughter-in-law of BOB GREGG, professor emeritus of religious studies and former dean for religious life at Stanford. Jennifer is married to Gregg’s son, CLARK GREGG, an actor, director and writer who has been featured in numerous supporting roles on the big and small screen, including Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The New Adventures of Old Christine. He also wrote the screenplays for What Lies Beneath and Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke.
“The Jennifer run on DWTS has been intriguing to watch, knowing her as we do!” Bob Gregg wrote in an email.

—Elaine Ray

Stanford salutes its veterans

November 11th, 2010

On Tuesday, Student veterans SEBASTAIN GOULD and GUEZ SALINAS visit Memorial Auditorium to read a Veterans Day letter from President John Hennessy and view the honor roll of engraved names of members of the Stanford community who gave their lives in war.