Donald Kennedy (born August 18, 1931) is an American scientist, public administrator and academic. He served as Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (1977–79), President of Stanford University (1980–92), and editor-in-chief of Science Magazine (2000–08). He resigned as president of Stanford University in 1992 in the wake of a scandal involving expenses charged to the federal government.
Donald Kennedy was born in New York and educated at Harvard University (A.B.; Ph.D., Biology, 1956). He has spent most of his professional career at Stanford University, which he joined as a faculty member in 1960 and where he was chair of the Department of Biology from 1964 to 1972, then director of the Program in Human Biology from 1973 to 1977. Kennedy is on the board of directors of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
For 26 months he served as Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration during the Carter Administration. Having been appointed by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Joseph Califano, in April 1977, in the next two-plus years Kennedy and the FDA dealt with issues such as the fallout from the attempt to ban saccharin, and the risks of antibiotic resistance in humans from agricultural antibiotic use and worked on provisions of the proposed Drug Regulation Reform Act of 1978.
After stepping down from the FDA in June 1979, Kennedy returned to Stanford, where he served as provost. In 1980 he became president of Stanford University and served in that position until 1992, when he resigned following congressional hearings over whether the university improperly billed the government for research expense as part of the Stanford Yacht Scandal. Billing the government for widening his bed and for the purchase of antiques for his home was regarded by many as indicative of a kind of arrogance he brought to his position of president. He "raised eyebrows" during his tenure by engaging in an affair with Robin Hamill, who was a Stanford lawyer at the time, before divorcing his wife and then marrying Hamill. Alumni in the arts remember him as the president who refused to meet with Gee Nichol who wanted to endow Stanford with a screenwriting chair to the tune of $50 million in today's dollars. Kennedy's oft-quoted response to her request for a meeting: "Stanford is a not a trade school" has echoed through the corridors of Hollywood for a generation. Kennedy disliked bowling and skateboards, and during his presidency ripped out a widely used bowling alley next to Tresidder Union, replacing the space with computer terminals that were removed a year later to make space for a retail clothing outlet. Of his decision to ban skateboards, Kennedy said, "It was one of the easiest decisions we ever made". Students didn't share his hatred of skateboards, however, and now skateboard racks are everywhere on campus. He remained at Stanford after resigning from the presidency. From 2000 until 2008, he was editor-in-chief of Science, the weekly published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (replaced by Bruce Alberts).
In 2010 he received Wonderfest's Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.
According to his Stanford biography, Kennedy's present research interests relate to "policy on such trans-boundary environmental problems as: major land-use changes; economically-driven alterations in agricultural practice; global climate change; beyond coal; and alternative energy sources.". He is now president emeritus of Stanford University; Bing Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, emeritus and senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, by courtesy.