Stanford University President Emeritus Richard W. Lyman, known for his unequivocal stance against the violent student protests that erupted on campus during the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s, died Sunday, of congestive heart failure at Channing House in Palo Alto.
He was 88.
According to Stanford News Service, 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.
"Dick Lyman was a man of great strength, integrity, common sense and good humor," said Stanford President John Hennessy in a statement from the news service. "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."
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.
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 World War II, 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, according to the news service.
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 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 four grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the Lyman family requests that memorial donations be made in his name to the American Friends Service Committee or the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford.