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Kennedy chronology

STANFORD -- The following is a chronology of major events during the career of Stanford President Donald Kennedy, 59 (born New York City, Aug. 18, 1931).


  • Earned bachelor's degree 1952, master's 1954, doctorate 1956, all in biology from Harvard University.


  • Member of Syracuse University faculty.


  • Joined Stanford's department of biological sciences. Was chair of the department from 1965 to 1972, and headed the program in human biology from 1974 to 1977.


  • As chairman of the faculty Advisory Board, presided at the hearing of Associate Prof. H. Bruce Franklin, who was charged with inciting campus violence in winter 1971. The hearings ran from Sept. 28 to Nov. 5, 1971, six days a week, six hours a day, with testimony from 110 witnesses. In January 1972, the Advisory Board, with Kennedy in the minority, voted 5-2 to recommend dismissal. The decision was endorsed by President Richard Lyman and upheld by the Board of Trustees, 20-2.


  • Chaired four-year national study sponsored by the National Research Council that concluded pesticides were becoming less effective and posed serious public health problems.
  • Received the Dinkelspiel Award, the university's highest honor for outstanding service to undergraduate education.


  • Completed a term on the Harvard Board of Overseers.
  • Took leave of absence to serve as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under President Carter. Told interviewer that "the opportunity to serve government is one that scientists should come to regard as a routine part of their career patterns, just as many academic lawyers, political scientists, and economists do."


  • Aug. 1: Returned to Stanford as provost, the university's chief academic officer.


  • June 13: Appointed Stanford's eighth president, effective Aug. 1.
  • Oct. 12: More than 6,000 gathered in Frost Amphitheater to hear inaugural address, which called for faculty to overcome the alienation of the late 1960s and once again become involved with students. Kennedy also announced establishment of the Stanford Humanities Center to support research of humanities scholars from Stanford and elsewhere, enabling them to write books and articles.


  • February: A national assessment of doctoral programs ranked Stanford among the top 10 in 25 different fields, a record exceeded only by Berkeley. Stanford was first in four fields: biochemistry, computer science, psychology and statistics- biostatistics.
  • May 19: Ground was broken for the Center for Integrated Systems, a joint venture between 20 industry sponsors and Stanford faculty and students in the fields of engineering, computer science and applied physics.
  • May 23: The Faculty Senate supported a nonpartisan review of relations between the Hoover Institution and the university.
  • November: System Development Foundation of Palo Alto announced a $21 million gift to the Center for the Study of Language and Information. The center is a major institution for the development of integrated theories of language, information and computation.


  • June: At the instigation of Kennedy, special assistant Catherine Milton issued a report calling for new initiatives in public service, including creation of a public service center. Stanford's Haas Center for Public Service Center sponsors a host of programs involving hundreds of students.


  • Feb. 12: University trustees selected a site in the foothills behind campus for a proposed Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, but only after the White House dropped plans for a public policy center under Hoover Institution control. In April 1987, the Faculty Senate urged trustees to scale down the facility or move it farther from the center of campus. A few weeks later, Reagan Presidential Foundation officials informed the university of their intention to build the library in Southern California.
  • June 14: Trustees approved the concept of redeveloping the Near West Campus, the 41-acre science and engineering region, at an estimated cost of $250 million. Alumnus William R. Hewlett earmarked $40 million for the project from a $50-million gift.
  • Sept. 30: Kennedy upheld the 1983 decision by the anthropology department faculty to terminate Steven Mosher as a doctoral candidate after an investigation of charges relating to Mosher's field research on a Chinese commune in 1979-80. Mosher claimed he was dismissed because of pressure by Chinese government officials upset about articles he wrote on forced abortions.


  • May 7: Alumni Lucile and David Packard pledged $70 million to finance construction of a new children's hospital at Stanford. The $100-million, 300,000-square-foot Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital opened in summer 1991.
  • December: Kennedy took a sabbatical through March 1987 to focus on long-range planning and resource issues.


  • February 10: Board of Trustees launched a five-year $1.1-billion Centennial Campaign, the largest to date in higher education. The goal was passed ahead of schedule, in June 1991.


  • March 31: A two-year debate on the future of the Western Culture requirement was resolved when the Faculty Senate adopted a compromise program called Cultures, Ideas and Values (CIV). Beginning in fall 1989, all freshmen would study, in addition to traditional "great works," women, minority and class issues, and works from at least one non-European culture. The debate gained national attention when then-Secretary of Education William Bennett claimed the Stanford faculty bowed to "pressure politics and intimidation." Kennedy and Bennett debated the issue on the nationally broadcast "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour."
  • May 16: Stanford-in-Washington campus was dedicated in nation's capital. Named for donors Robert M. and Anne T. Bass and located in the Connecticut Avenue Club in Woodley Park, the center houses 30 undergraduates, who study and serve internships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The idea for the campus was first formally expressed by Kennedy when he returned from service at the Food and Drug Administration.
  • May 17: University trustees informed Hoover Institution Director W. Glenn Campbell that they were launching a search for his successor. Campbell, who sparred often with Kennedy, had threatened to sue the university if forced to retire at age 65. Eventually he accepted a retirement offer from the trustees, effective Aug. 31, 1989. John Raisian was named to succeed him, with relations between Hoover and the university warming to the point where Kennedy added Raisian to the university cabinet.


  • Jan. 10: The study of cultural differences should be incorporated in a broad spectrum of courses, Kennedy said in a statement circulated to faculty and students after two racial incidents at dormitories. Meanwhile, a faculty committee was considering changes that would incorporate study of ethnicity and gender issues in the distribution requirements.
  • April 5: The University Committee on Minority Issues, appointed by Kennedy and Provost James N. Rosse in 1987, released a 240-page report containing more than 100 recommendations that it said could help fulfill the university's commitment to become "a genuinely pluralistic community." Proposals include: add 30 minority faculty, double minority doctoral enrollments, double courses focusing on minorities and establish an ethnic studies requirement. Hundreds of students and others were surveyed and interviewed during the 18- month study. Kennedy said the final product was of "extraordinary quality - thorough in its evaluations, fair in its intentions and constructive in outlook."
  • May 15: Students took over Kennedy's office for the day to press demands for more minority faculty and full-time ethnic deans. Fifty-three students subsequently were charged with violating the university's Policy on Campus Disruption.
  • Oct. 19: Loma Prieta earthquake, 7.1 on the Richter scale, strikes the Bay area, causing $160 million in damage to the Stanford campus.
  • Nov. 12: The Stanford Japan Center formally opened in Kyoto. Stanford administers for a consortium of American universities a nine-month program in which 35 students study Japanese culture, history, literature and social organization. Also housed at the center is the Stanford Center for Innovation and Technology, designed for Stanford students interested in contemporary Japanese culture and technology.


  • April 5: In a wide-ranging speech on "Stanford in Its Second Century," Kennedy called on community members to renew their commitment to teaching as "first among our labors." The combination of teaching and research has been a source of Stanford's strength, but the relative weight has shifted over time, as the term "research university" suggests, he said.
  • June 4: Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visits Stanford campus.
  • Sept. 12: Stanford announced that its policies and practices on recovering the indirect costs of research are being investigated by three federal agencies. The issue would lead to testimony before congressional hearings on March 13, 1991; subsequent acknowledgment of errors and inappropriate charges at Stanford and more than 20 other universities; continuing audits and inquiries; and a fundamental reform of Stanford's financial systems and practices, announced July 22, 1991.
  • October: Administration announced a new policy putting unmarried student domestic partners on the same footing as married couples for university housing and other privileges. In February 1991, the Board of Trustees concluded that the policy was an implementation of long-standing university nondiscrimination policies.


  • March: Kennedy announced $7 million in new programs to improve teaching of undergraduates and "increase the resonance between teaching and research," including modifications to promotion and hiring processes and economic reward for outstanding classroom instruction.

Kennedy's honors include election to American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society.



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