John Casper Branner
President: 1913-1915

Branner in academic robe (top right). He told the inauguration audience (bottom), "you must not expect to find in me any of the evidences of Chancellor Jordan's genius. I am compelled by nature and by principle to depend not on the inspirations of genius, but on routine work directed to a definite end."

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Vice President John Casper Branner was on a field trip in Brazil when he was named Stanford's second president in May 1913, largely due to the lobbying of alumnus Herbert C. Hoover, a member of the Board of Trustees. The campus waited until Branner, a geologist, returned and hosted an official ceremony on Oct. 1 of that year.

In his address in the Quad, Branner said, "I warn you at the outset that you must not expect to find in me any of the evidences of Chancellor Jordan's genius. I am compelled by nature and by principle to depend not on the inspirations of genius, but on routine work directed to a definite end. I cannot promise to be diplomatic, but you can always count on my frankness and my straightforwardness, which are more important, I hope, in our dealings with each other."

In an aside that the Office of Development might take issue with today, Branner criticized the practice of asking alumni to support their alma mater. He told a story about a woman who was constantly pestered for financial support after she graduated from "a famous college for women." He said: "With this sort of thing I have no sympathy. It is too suggestive of the cannibal king who raised his own children for his own food."

Branner was also up front about his plans concerning retirement. He wanted to leave by the end of the 1914-15 academic year, just after he turned 65, "before old age can fasten me on the institution as an unproductive and unwelcome pensioner." Branner retired in the fall of 1915.

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