John Ford, longtime head of development, to retire in January

John Ford

John Ford

John Ford, who joined Stanford 30 years ago to head the major gifts program at the Medical Center and rose through the ranks to become the university's chief fundraiser, will retire Jan. 31, 2008.

"John has helped build a development program and team that is second to none in the nation," President John Hennessy said of Ford, who became senior vice president for university resources—a newly created post—in 2005, after serving as vice president for development for 17 years.

"Under John's leadership, Stanford has been higher education's development leader for the past 20 years, launching the first billion-dollar campaign, The Centennial Campaign, followed later by the first ever billion-dollar effort focused exclusively on undergraduate education, The Campaign for Undergraduate Education. Finally, The Stanford Challenge again is setting the pace for 21st-century fundraising campaigns."

Ford, who earned a bachelor's degree in history from Stanford in 1971, began his development career at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago.

Joining Stanford in 1977 as a development officer at the Medical Center, he served as director of Medical Development from 1980 to 1986. He became the university's associate vice president for development in 1986 and vice president for development in 1988.

"His role at the university, however, was more than simply being its chief fundraiser," Hennessy said. "John has served as a strategic adviser to three Stanford presidents, to the Board of Trustees and the university's academic leaders. His influence has been felt throughout the university."

In 2001, Ford received the Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Award, which recognizes exceptional service to Stanford University. Ford was cited for "setting and achieving sustained, record-setting fundraising goals that are acutely sensitive to the university's academic priorities." The citation also praised Ford's "clear vision, leadership and high ethical standards."

Hennessy also announced that Martin Shell, vice president for development, succeeded Ford as vice chair of The Stanford Challenge, a $4.3 billion fundraising effort, in early October.