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Event celebrating former KU Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy scheduled for April 12

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

KU Libraries and the KU Alumni Association are hosting an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Chancellor Franklin Murphy with a reception and book signing for “The Making of a Leader: Franklin D. Murphy, the Kansas years” by Nancy Kellogg Harper, Ph.D. The event will be held in the Adams Alumni Center on the KU campus on Wednesday, April 12 from 3:30-5:30 p.m..

A university leader who gained national stature, Franklin Murphy began his higher-education career at age 32 when he was tapped as dean of the KU School of Medicine. Only three years later, at 35, he became chancellor of KU, a post he held for nine years, from 1951-1960. During these years, Chancellor Murphy dealt with civil rights issues and political wars in Kansas.

Murphy moved on to the chancellorship of the University of California, Los Angeles in 1960, and, in 1968, became chairman and CEO of the Times Mirror Company in Los Angeles.

“I began researching Murphy for my doctoral dissertation,” said Harper. “I was particularly interested in how he developed his leadership skills and how the lessons he learned in Kansas became the foundation for his incredible career.”

Using interviews, archival documents, correspondence and newspapers, Harper organized the biography by areas of influence, including Murphy’s impact on the arts and the libraries, civil rights and Kansas politics.

“The book isn’t an exhaustive biography,” Harper said, “and it’s not written chronologically.” She said that it centers on stories that illustrate Murphy’s impact.

The April 12th celebration will include remarks from Harper; Jim Gunn, KU professor emeritus of English; Bill Tuttle, KU professor emeritus of American Studies and John Edgar Tidwell, KU professor of English.

“We are honored to partner with the Alumni Association to highlight Harper’s insightful biography,” said Kevin L. Smith, dean of KU Libraries. “As a bibliophile himself, Murphy was invaluable to KU Libraries during his tenure as chancellor, supporting the acquisition of books and works to expand the accessible knowledge base for KU scholars.”

The event is free and open to the public. RSVP to Leah Hallstrom by April 7 at 785-864-3103 or

“The Making of a Leader: Franklin D. Murphy, the Kansas years” will be available for purchase at the event.

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Leah Hallstrom
Communications Specialist

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