University dedicates Danforth Campus, Plaza

On Sept. 17, WUSTL’s main campus — often called the Hilltop Campus — was named in honor of former Chancellor William H. Danforth, his family and the Danforth Foundation.

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

Among those making remarks were Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton and David W. Kemper, chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Harold T. Shapiro, Ph.D., president emeritus and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, gave the keynote address, titled “A Larger Sense of Purpose: Higher Education and Society” — the same as his most recent book.

A highlight of the ceremony came when the Danforth siblings 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 undergraduate 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.

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.

The plaque at the north end highlights the contributions of the family and foundation, and reads:

Bill’s grandfather and namesake — William Danforth — graduated from Washington University in 1892 and later served as a Trustee for 25 years. William founded the Ralston Purina Company and later the Danforth Foundation. His son, Donald, continued the family’s commitment to service and philanthropy, as have Donald’s four children — Bill, John, Donald Jr., and Dorothy Miller. Donald Danforth Jr., graduated from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in 1955. John Danforth served as Missouri U.S. Senator 1976 to 1995 and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations 2004 to 2005.

Created in 1927, the Danforth Foundation has generously supported Washington University over many years — building its endowment to support in perpetuity the educational, research and scholarly programs of both this campus and that of the School of Medicine. The foundation has inspired countless others to follow its example of philanthropy.

The plaque at the south end highlights the career and contributions of Danforth and reads:

William H. Danforth

Providing more than a half-century of service to Washington University, Bill Danforth began his University affiliation at Barnes Hospital as an intern in medicine in 1951, became a member of the medical faculty in 1957, and then served as: Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and President of the Washington University Medical Center 1965 to 1971; Chancellor 1971 to 1995; Chairman of the Board of Trustees 1995 to 1999; and Trustee Vice Chairman 1999 to 2004. He was named Chancellor Emeritus in 1999. He joined with the faculty and students in creating a warm and friendly community, open and devoted to academic excellence.

During his chancellorship, Washington University grew in national and international recognition for its teaching and research. The University strengthened its academic programs, significantly expanded resources for scholarship and scientific discovery, and attracted exceptionally creative and talented students from all 50 states and 100 other countries. The Danforth Campus added more than 20 buildings, and support for endowed professorships, scholarships and other endowments increased twelve-fold.

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

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