FEATURE — Winter 2006
   

 
The Washington University Bear mascot gives Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth a high-five during the Danforth Campus dedication ceremony.

Honoring the Danforths

On Sunday, September 17, Washington University dedicated the Danforth Campus.

By Andy Clendennen

The University's main campus—often called the Hilltop Campus—got a name change on September 17, 2006. The Board of Trustees officially named the campus, Danforth Campus, honoring former Chancellor William H. Danforth, his family, and the Danforth Foundation.

Approximately 1,000 people attended the Danforth Campus dedication ceremony, held in Graham Chapel. The event recognized Danforth, 80, who served as chancellor from 1971 to 1995, his family, and the foundation for the role they have played in the University's evolution.

Among the dedication speakers were David W. Kemper, chairman of the University's Board of Trustees, Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, and Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

Speakers at the dedication included David W. Kemper, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Gerald Early, the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters and director of the Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences; senior Laura Kleinman, a Danforth and Truman scholar at the University; and Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

"From his earliest days as chancellor," said Chancellor Wrighton, "Bill envisioned a world-class future for this University, and he set about bringing together the people and the resources necessary to realize his vision. When asked why, he simply replied: '... because we are never satisfied. The tradition of Washington University is a restless striving to take the next step, to do better, to provide a broader and deeper education, to nurture faculty who can make major contributions to human knowledge and wisdom that will transform the world.'"

Harold T. Shapiro, president emeritus and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, gave the keynote address, titled "A Higher Sense of Purpose: Research Universities and Society."

Donald Suggs, president and publisher of the St. Louis American, greets Chancellor Emeritus Danforth at a post-ceremony reception in Holmes Lounge.

A highlight of the ceremony came when the Danforth siblings—Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, former Senator John C. Danforth, and Dorothy Danforth Miller—were presented with replicas of the Danforth Campus medallion that was recently installed in Danforth Plaza just east of Brookings Hall.

The newly installed Danforth Plaza also was dedicated as part of the ceremony naming the Danforth Campus. Visitors walking up the Brookings Hall steps have a new sight greeting them just before passing through the archway to the Danforth Campus—a plaza, complete with benches, a fountain, and a planter.

"The Danforth Plaza provides the perfect entry point for visiting students and their families, after they walk up the grand steps of Brookings Hall," said John Berg, associate vice chancellor for admissions.

"In addition, they also now have a wonderful gathering place as they begin their campus tours—what a great way to begin your visit to Washington University."

Designed by the architecture firm Mackey Mitchell Associates in partnership with Herb Schaal from EDAW Inc.—the University's landscape architecture planning firm that has designed a number of landscaped areas on campus—the plaza also includes a 16-foot-diameter granite medallion embedded in the ground welcoming visitors to the Danforth Campus (see Parting Shot).

Singh names center after Danforth
In a surprise announcement at the Danforth Campus dedication ceremony, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton declared that longtime Danforth family friend Gurpreet "Pete" Singh has chosen to honor the Danforth name in his native India—naming The Danforth Centre for Youth Entrepreneurship. The centre is situated within Sikhya, the school Singh, M.B.A. '54, honorary Doctor of Laws '87, founded in Chandigarh, India, to educate some of the poorest children in that region. (Please see Washington University in St. Louis Magazine fall 2006 issue for the "Helping Hands" article on alumnus Gurpreet Singh, a member of the University's International Advisory Council for Asia, and Sikhya, or visit http://magazine.wustl.edu/Fall06/HelpingHands.htm.)

Singh had planned to attend the September 17 dedication ceremony, and although he was unable to, he wanted to have a connection with the festivities.

"To celebrate and share in the joy, and to honor the Danforths, we will be paying our tribute by naming and dedicating a centre at Sikhya School as The Danforth Centre for Youth Entrepreneurship," Singh wrote in an email.

"It's a small and humble tribute that we would like to offer to a wonderful friend and a great family."

The plaza extends both to the north and south of Brookings Hall, and is marked with a plaque at each end highlighting the contributions of William H. Danforth, the Danforth family, and the Danforth Foundation.

Each plaque includes the following written message: Founded in 1853, Washington University erected its first buildings on this site beginning in 1900 as part of a planned move from its original home in downtown St. Louis. The campus is named in honor of William H. (Bill) Danforth, M.D., the Danforth Family, and the Danforth Foundation for their extraordinary leadership and support of the University throughout the past century. Known affectionately as "Uncle Bill" and "Chan Dan" to the more than 60,000 students who graduated during his chancellorship, Bill Danforth served as the 13th Chancellor of the University for 24 years—1971 to 1995. His wife, Elizabeth (Ibby) Gray Danforth, was a beloved and energetic first lady. Together they inspired and transformed this community with their caring dedication, integrity, and vision.

A celebration in Holmes Lounge and Brookings Quadrangle followed the dedication ceremony.

Other events in conjunction with the naming included an exhibition titled "Danforth Campus: In Recognition of Service and Support," which was on display in the Olin Library Ginkgo Room through mid-October, and the Danforth Lecture Series.

Andy Clendennen is the associate editor of the University's faculty-staff newspaper, Record, and a senior news writer.