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Biographical / Historical
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Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Title: Richard W. Lyman personal papers
Lyman, Richard W.
Lyman, Richard W.
Identifier/Call Number: SC0562
72.5 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1778-2011
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[identification of item], Richard W. Lyman Personal Papers (SC0562). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives,
Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
Biographical / Historical
Lyman was born in Philadelphia in 1923 and raised in New Haven, Conn. His father, a chemist who lost his job during the recession
that followed World War I, became an attorney. His mother taught French.
His exposure to the world began with a summer visit to Belgium to visit his maternal grandmother. Later, in 1939 at the outbreak
of WWII, he returned with his mother in an unsuccessful attempt to get permission for his stateless grandmother to leave Brussels.
In 1940, Lyman entered Swarthmore College, a Quaker college near Philadelphia. He was drafted in 1943 and served in the Army
Air Forces Weather Service for three years – a formative experience, by his account.. He returned to Swarthmore in 1946, and
one day – as he loved to tell the story – noticed a "gorgeous creature asleep in the Friends Library." It was Elizabeth "Jing"
Schauffler, the sister of a classmate.
The couple married in 1947 in a ceremony on Great Spruce Head Island in Penobscot Bay, Maine, the summer after they graduated.
That same year, Lyman began his graduate studies in history at Harvard University.
In 1951 and 1952, Lyman was a Fulbright Fellow at the London School of Economics. He spent two summers writing for The Economist,
a newsweekly based in London, and for a time thought he might become a journalist. But when the editor asked Lyman to become
its permanent Washington correspondent, Lyman, who was teaching history at Swarthmore and writing his dissertation, declined.
"By that time I was very near achieving the PhD, and I thought I had invested too much in an academic career to give it up,
so I became a historian," he said.
Lyman taught history at Washington University in St. Louis from 1954 to 1958.
He arrived at Stanford in 1958, a year after his Harvard dissertation was published as a book, The First Labour Government,
1924. Lyman said one of the things that attracted him to Stanford was the British Labour Party history collection at the Hoover
Institution – which he described as the "best one outside Britain."
At the time, Lyman and his wife had four children – two girls and two boys – ranging in age from 1 to 8 years old.
"I first knew him as a teacher," said David Kennedy, an emeritus professor of history. "He was a really great teacher; he
was exceptionally rigorous, but he was also very supportive."
"Even his 8:00 a.m. lectures received high evaluations from students," said Lyman’s son, Timothy.
Lyman, who was promoted to full professor in 1962, began his rise through the administrative ranks in 1964, when he became
associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, a position he held for three years.
It was an era of great social change across the country, marked by the battles for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.
In 1965, Lyman agreed to chair a campus "teach-in" on the Vietnam War at Stanford – as long as the panel included speakers
for and against the war.
"Still I got blasted by the Winds of Freedom Foundation, a self-appointed bunch of right-wing guardians of Stanford's virtue,
which believed it very sinful that I would even get within earshot of Vietnam objections," Lyman recalled in a 2004 interview
in Sandstone & Tile, the quarterly journal of the Stanford Historical Society.
Lyman, who served as president from 1970 to 1980, held many posts during the 25 years he spent at Stanford: history professor,
associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, provost, president, and founder and director of the center now known
as the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
In 1972, Lyman launched the $300 million Campaign for Stanford, then the largest fundraising campaign in the history of higher
education. The successful five-year drive raised money for the endowment, buildings, endowed chairs and financial aid.
"Dick Lyman was a man of great strength, integrity, common sense and good humor," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "It
was a privilege to know him, and I am deeply saddened by his death. His impact on Stanford was profound. He guided the university
through some of the most turbulent years in its history, and under his leadership, Stanford not only survived, it flourished.
"He had an unswerving belief in academic freedom and universities, and he inspired that commitment in others. We are very
fortunate – and certainly the better – for having known him and for having his courageous, committed leadership and service
Lyman's Stanford legacy was largely shaped by his three years as provost and the early years of his presidency, a time he
recounted in Stanford in Turmoil: Campus Unrest, 1966-1972, which was published by Stanford University Press in 2009.
During those years, students demonstrated for racial equality and against military research, CIA recruiting and ROTC training
"Whether I got it published or not, I wanted my version of what happened in those years on record, so that anybody writing
the history of Stanford would have to stumble over what I had to say about it," Lyman told Stanford Report in 2009.
The 200-page memoir gave a behind-the-scenes look at several watershed university decisions: to ban classified research on
campus; to increase the admission of black students and to hire more black faculty; to summon police to quell violent anti-war
protests; and to fire a tenured professor for allegedly inciting students to disobey a police order during a 1971 anti-war
Stanford magazine published an excerpt from the book under the title "At the Hands of the Radicals" in its January/February
Lyman opposed the Vietnam War – he sent a personal telegram to President Richard Nixon deploring the U.S. invasion of Cambodia
in 1970 – and was an ardent advocate of free speech. But he was unwavering in his opposition to violent protests and the sit-ins
– which he disparaged as coercive acts – that disrupted campus life.
During the three years he was provost, from 1967 to 1970, Lyman grew increasingly frustrated with what he viewed as Stanford's
tolerant, even sympathetic approach to students involved in anti-war protests.
In 1969, hundreds of students occupied the Applied Electronics Laboratory for nine days in a peaceful protest over classified
and war-related research on campus.
Weeks after that sit-in ended, students broke into Encina Hall – the main administration building – and began breaking windows,
rifling through desks and file cabinets and seizing files. Lyman persuaded Stanford President Kenneth Pitzer to summon riot
police. It was the first time Stanford called police to campus.
"One of the reasons why we called the police to Encina was because it came so soon after the protest at the Applied Electronics
Laboratory, and it was clear there was just not going to be any peace as long as we had to tolerate these sit-ins," he said.
When Lyman became president in 1970, he instituted a policy that student protesters would not be allowed to occupy a building
"We have to preserve order, because if we do not, someone else who does not understand the delicate fabric of the university
will come in and do it," Lyman told Time magazine after he took the helm at 46 as Stanford's seventh president.
Donald Kennedy, who joined Stanford's faculty in 1960, served as provost under Lyman from 1979 to 1980, and succeeded him
as president from 1980 to 1992.
"After a time as provost, during which he performed superbly, Dick undertook the presidency just when peace and civility were
both among the missing here," said Kennedy, who is the Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Emeritus.
"He did bring us peace, and he also employed candor and occasional bluntness to build a more civil community. Those of us
who served him grew soon to respect his values and then to share them, as we watched him accomplish an extraordinary 10-year
feat of gradual, steady institutional resurrection."
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Stanford organized a memorial colloquium on white racism in Memorial
While Provost Lyman was speaking, 60 members of the university's Black Student Union quietly took over the stage. One student
read a list of demands, including calls to increase the number of minority students and minority faculty.
When they finished reading their demands, they walked out of the auditorium to a standing ovation. Lyman resumed his speech.
Before the week ended, Lyman wrote in Stanford in Turmoil, the administration had met most of the demands in spirit, if not
in exact detail.
He said the negotiations gave him a sense of "exhilaration."
"We were doing our best to set an institution, for which we cared deeply, on the road toward diversity after many decades
of injustice and exclusion," he told Stanford magazine in 1995, in an article titled "Years of Hope, Days of Rage: Twenty-Five
Lyman earned praise for the way he handled that situation from one of the protesters, Leo Bazile, '71, the former president
of the Stanford Black Student Union.
"Lyman was very instrumental in opening doors so we could go back with some kind of victory," Bazile told Stanford magazine.
"We were not there to make war on the university. We were there to extract for our constituency the best agreement so they
could get the education they needed. Dick Lyman never treated us like kids."
In a 2009 interview, Lyman told Stanford Report that the hostility toward him on campus back then was intense.
"Unless you've tried to speak to a crowd of several hundred people, all of whom hate your guts, you can't realize how difficult
it is," he said. "In some way everyone's articulateness is decreased by that kind of circumstance."
Instead, Lyman held court on KZSU, the campus radio station.
"Any Stanford student journalist – from the radical papers as well as the Stanford Daily – and the Stanford News Service person
would be able to come and ask any question they wanted and I'd answer," he said. "That made it impossible for the radicals
to say: 'We can't find out what he thinks. We can't find out why he did what he did.' They were reduced to saying: 'He's afraid
to face us.' Which was true. I didn't want to face a crowd of 500 if I could talk over the radio to a dozen reporters in my
physical presence. It was much more constructive for me."
In 1972, Lyman recommended abandoning the "Indian," Stanford's mascot, following talks with Native American students and staff
who called the image demeaning and degrading. The student senate concurred. Some alumni were so incensed by the decision that
they withheld financial contributions in protest.
Reflecting on that decision in 1995 in Stanford magazine, Lyman said:
"The picture the angry alumni had was that the Indian students put unbearable pressure on us. The Indian students were a couple
dozen very shy people who certainly felt strongly about the issue but were about as un-intimidating as any group of people
could possibly be. No, I just decided they were right about it."
In 2002, the Stanford Powwow commemorated the 30th anniversary of the decision.
"I'm very pleased that someone thinks well of that decision," Lyman told Stanford Report. "I've gotten so much flak over the
years for it."
Stanford, which no longer has a mascot, is known by its nickname, "the Cardinal," a reference to one of its two official colors,
red and white.
In the 2009 Stanford Report interview at his home in Palo Alto, Lyman, who described himself as a lifelong feminist, said
he was proud of the gains women achieved during his tenure as provost and president.
"Instead of resisting things like Title IX, we encouraged them," he said, referring to the landmark federal legislation that
banned sex discrimination in schools.
"I supported the Center for Research on Women," he added. The research center is now known as the Michelle R. Clayman Institute
for Gender Research at Stanford
Reminded that Stanford had opened its first coed dormitory on the Farm while he was provost, Lyman said the university was
already housing male and female students in the same dorm in Florence, Italy, at an overseas studies campus. "If we can have
a coed dorm in Florence, Italy, why not in Florence Moore," he quipped in 2009, referring to a residence hall at Stanford.
In 1976, Lyman came under fire for not intervening after students invited black activist Angela Davis to speak on campus.
Lyman, who wrote his own speeches, memos and letters, responded in a letter to one irate donor:
"The reason I am unwilling, despite the anger and unhappiness of many, and threats of financial retaliation from some, to
attempt to intervene in this matter is that I have an absolute duty to respect and do whatever I can to protect the right
of free speech, and the willingness to listen to unpopular or even dangerous ideas, which lie at the core of any good university's
being," Lyman wrote.
"But a great university is a tough, long-lived institution, and Stanford will long survive you and me and our opinions and
prejudice, our achievements and our mistakes. I hope you will reconsider the drastic step of breaking your ties with this
institution, for you and I at least share one thing: We are both of us devoted to Stanford."
In Stanford in Turmoil, Lyman wrote that the university continued its "meteoric rise to prominence and increase in reputation
and selectivity" despite the turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Stanford, a regional university in the 1950s, was
a "nationally and internationally prestigious university by the time the 70s were over," he wrote.
Lyman left the university in 1980 to become president of the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City – a post he held for
During Lyman's tenure, the foundation launched programs on a variety of topics, including genetic plant engineering; biomedical
research in Africa, Asia and Latin America; fellowships for independent film, video and multimedia artists in the United States;
fighting persistent poverty in American cities; and using science and technology to improve living standards in developing
In 2002, the National Humanities Center, an independent institute for advanced study in the humanities, established the Richard
W. Lyman Award, with a $500,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The award was given to five people from 2002 to 2006.
It recognized scholars who had advanced humanistic scholarship through the innovative use of information technology.
Lyman served on the National Council on the Humanities from 1976 to 1982, including two years as vice chairman. (The council
is composed of 26 people appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. They advise the chairman of the National
Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency that is one of the nation's largest funders of humanities programs.)
Lyman returned to Stanford in 1988 to develop a forum for interdisciplinary research on key international issues and challenges
– now known as the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.
Lyman served as director of the center until he retired in 1991.
Said Stanford President Emeritus Gerhard Casper: "Lyman prevented the collapse of Stanford and stood up for the values and
seriousness of a great university. Though he was too modest to accept that characterization, I believe that Dick saved Stanford.
His contribution was essential not only for Stanford but for the morale of American higher education more generally."
In addition to his wife, Jing, who lives in Palo Alto, Lyman is survived by daughters Jennifer P. Lyman of Washington, D.C.,
and the Rev. Holly Antolini of Cambridge, Mass.; sons Christopher of Searsmont, Maine, and Timothy of Hartford, Conn.; and
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Student movements -- California -- Stanford.
College presidents -- California -- Stanford.
International Business Machines Corporation.
Lyman, Richard W.
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
Lyman, Richard W.