Sunday, September 15, 2013

Christine Rogers: The Forgotten President

Kenneth Pitzer, the 6th President of Stanford, was an educator and a theoretical and physical chemist. In 1961, after serving as a chemistry professor and a dean of the College of Chemistry at UC Berkeley, Pitzer became Rice's third President, serving until 1968. In 1969, he became the 6th President of Stanford. 19 months later, Pitzer resigned, making his term the shortest of any Stanford President, excepting that of acting President Alvin C. Eurich who was named acting President after Donald Tresidder's sudden death in 1948.

When Pitzer assumed office, he did so amid serious strife and turmoil around Stanford; his time at Stanford was rife with sit-ins, marches, and confrontation. Pitzer's (unsuccessful) attempts to peacefully mitigate campus disputes without calling the police were meet with increasingly escalating violence, along with personal attacks, ranging from dousing Pitzer with paint and vandalizing his house with rocks and propaganda graffiti. Several "firsts" occurred during Pitzer's term as President, such as the first time police were called to campus and the first use of tear gas on campus.

In June 1970,  Pitzer resigned, telling reporters, "After a certain length of time, you suffer some wounds and get a bit tired." Then, after taking a sabbatical for a year, Pitzer returned to teaching, which he continued to do until he retired in 1984.

While his term was marked with violence and much political strife, many beneficial things were accomplished during his tenure: the university expanded the Trustee board to become much more diverse and representative of society, established a new university-industry television network for advanced instruction from nearby engineering companies, introduced a new major in African and Afro-American studies and shifted university teaching resources to the freshman year.

The shortness of his tenure, combined with the continued campus turmoil that surrounded his time on campus, possibly explain why Pitzer is often forgotten among the other illustrious Presidents that fill Stanford's history.
Here's the Link

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