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Description of the Collection
Language of Material:
Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Title: Richard W. Lyman papers
Lyman, Richard W.
Identifier/Call Number: SC0215
365 Linear Feet
Date (inclusive): 1965-1981
Abstract: This collection consists of records
from Richard W. Lyman's term as President of Stanford University (1970-1980), along with the
records of the Provost. Some of the records were generated by the previous administration of
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[Identification of item], Richard W. Lyman Papers (SC0215). Department of Special
Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
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
"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
"Even his 8:00 a.m. lectures received high evaluations from students," said Lyman’s son,
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 to Stanford."
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 on campus.
"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 protest.
Stanford magazine published an excerpt from the book under the title "At the Hands of the
Radicals" in its January/February 2009 issue.
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 overnight.
"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
After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Stanford organized a memorial
colloquium on white racism in Memorial Auditorium.
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
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 Years Later."
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 eight years.
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 countries.
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
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
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
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
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 four grandchildren.
Description of the Collection
The collection consists of records from Lyman's term as President of Stanford University,
along with the records of the Provost. Some of the records were generated by the previous
administration of Kenneth Pitzer.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Universities and colleges -- Administration.
Lyman, Richard W.
Lyman, Richard W.
Pitzer, Kenneth S.