Wednesday, September 4, 2013
He'll Always Be Our Chancellor
When we gather for Reunion in October, it will be our first without former Chancellor Alexander Heard. He passed away July 24, 2009 at the age of 92.
Heard led Vanderbilt for nearly two decades (1963-1982). While his tenure was an often tumultous period in terms of change on campus and student unrest nationwide, his leadership at VU saw relative calm here along with the addition of three new schools (Peabody, Owen and Blair), the construction or major renovation of some three dozen school buildings, two highly successful fund-raising campaigns, a doubling of enrollment and the school's annual budget increasing tenfold!
Chancellor Heard was also a frequent Presidential advisor, heading major studies on topics such as campaign costs, intergovermental relations, education and community relations under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Most notably during our time at Vanderbilt, Chancellor Heard was named a Special Advisor to President Nixon in the spring of 1970. It came during a period in which campus unrest was at its height following the invasion of Cambodia and the widening of the War in Vietnam. Here below is a photo of Chancellor Heard addressing Vanderbilt students in Neely Auditorium on the day he accepted the presidential appointment, followed by a CBS Evening News report by Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather that aired the same evening.....
Chancellor Heard also led the efforts to diversify Vanderbilt's top leadership adding the first woman to the Board of Trust (several more have followed) as well as a new class of trustees----four recent graduates to assure a youthful perspective will always be heard by the board. The Heard name of course remains prominent at the school...the Joint University Library of our day now holds the name of the Chancellor and his wife, Jean. And since his retirement in 1982, Vanderbilt annually presents the Alexander Heard Distinguished Service Professor Award honoring a faculty member for his/her contributions to the understanding of problems in contemporary society.
We miss you, Chancellor. Rest in peace.