When Donald Kennedy assumed office as president on Aug. 1, 1980, he had been a faculty member for 20 years. Chemistry Professor Eric Hutchinson found nine yards of red silk in San Francisco that was used for the presidential gown first worn by Kennedy. A Baroque trumpet fanfare kicked off the inauguration ceremony on Oct. 12 and heraldic flags added a festive touch to what was later described as a "Stanford family affair." In his speech, Kennedy said that leadership is more than management, and that a president must do more than maintain structure and conserve momentum. "In the end, leadership works best -- indeed, may work only -- when it is closely faithful to the institution's own character," he said. Kennedy promised the audience an era "in which we will be aggressively ambitious for this splendid institution."
Stanford's eighth president remained in office until August 1992. A high-profile disagreement with the federal government over reimbursement for the indirect costs of research overshadowed many of his accomplishments. The president emeritus remains on campus as a faculty member in biological sciences and at the Institute for International Studies.