Archive for Friday, June 17, 1994


June 17, 1994


Friends and colleagues recall Franklin Murphy's influence on academe, art and the media.

In the midst of dealing with the imminent departure of one Kansas University chancellor, the university today mourned the death of another.

Dr. Franklin D. Murphy, 78, former chancellor at KU and University of California-Los Angeles and former chairman and chief executive of Times Mirror Co., died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in February.

In 1986, Murphy suggested this for his tombstone: "Here lies a man who had curiosity."

"I've always tried to look around a lot of corners," Murphy said at the time. "I'm always trying to learn more."

Murphy considered himself something of a Johnny Appleseed, whether planting art in a sculpture garden or planting the seed of success among college students.

"The arts can play a big role in softening human attitudes without softening the determination of the society to succeed," he said.

Dr. Clark Wescoe of Minneapolis, Minn., was KU's chancellor after Murphy left KU for UCLA in 1960.

"I feel like I've lost a member of my family. We were as close as brothers," he said.

Wescoe said his predecessor as chancellor wouldn't have left KU had it not been for the criticism of then-Kansas Gov. George Docking.

"There was a running feud," Wescoe said. "Almost like the Hatfields and McCoys. Franklin's last days as chancellor were real unhappy ones."

"He will be greatly missed," said Ray Nichols of Lawrence, who was KU chancellor in 1972-73. "There was no one like him."

KU Chancellor Gene Budig, who will leave KU in July, said Murphy never really left KU.

"This institution remained close to his heart throughout his life. He has left a lasting mark on KU," he said.

Murphy understood KU's potential as a research university, fostered KU Medical Center's role of teaching, research and public service, and appreciated the value of the fine and performing arts, Budig said.

When Murphy announced his decision to leave KU in 1960, nearly 4,000 students crowded into Hoch Auditorium to protest his departure.

Murphy was UCLA chancellor until 1968. He guided the university through dramatic growth, urging scholarly distinction in worldwide terms.

UCLA Chancellor Charles Young described Murphy as ``a giant in the history of the UCLA campus.''

Murphy left UCLA to be chairman and chief executive of Times Mirror. He did that until 1980, and continued as a company director until 1986.

``Franklin brought drive, passion and commitment to every project,'' said Robert Erburu, Times Mirror president and CEO.

Murphy was born Jan. 29, 1916, in Kansas City, Mo., the son of Dr. Franklin E. and Cordelia Brown Murphy. He graduated from KU in 1936 and from University of Pennsylvania medical school in 1941.

He married Judith Harris in 1940. After postgraduate work, he served in the U.S. Army until 1946. He became dean of KU's medical school in 1948. At the age of 35, he was appointed KU's chancellor in 1951, leaving nine years later for UCLA.

A national figure in promotion of the arts and development of cultural institutions, Murphy was a chair of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York, an institution for art preservation and conservation education.

Survivors include his wife, of the home; three daughters, Joyce Dickey, Martha Crockwell and Carolyn Speer; and a son, Dr. Franklin L. Murphy. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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