Kennedy elected co-chair of Pulitzer board

May 4, 2010, 1:02 a.m.

Kennedy elected co-chair of Pulitzer board
Professor emeritus David Kennedy is set to co-chair the Pulitzer Prize board with Amanda Bennett. (Courtesy of Stanford News Service)

David Kennedy ’63, professor emeritus of history, was elected co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board last week.

Kennedy, along with Amanda Bennett, an executive editor for Bloomberg News, will serve a one-year term, succeeding Anders Gyllenhaal, executive editor of The Miami Herald.

“Not unlike a great university like Stanford, the Pulitzer Board considers itself to be the guardian and steward of excellence,” Kennedy said. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded annually for excellence in journalism, letters, drama and music.

“I’ve watched other people chair the board over the years,” said Kennedy, who has been a board member since 2002. “I’ve got some wonderful models to follow.”

Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 2000 for his book “Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War.”

Of the 21 prizes the board grants, all but seven are for journalism.

The board consists mostly of journalists, including New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman and Associated Press executive editor and senior vice president Kathleen Carroll, among others.

“One of the things I hope to accomplish as chair is to rebalance membership so it better mirrors the distribution of the prizes,” Kennedy said.

He emphasized that the journalists and academics on the board often face challenges in judging categories with which they are less familiar.

“The categories that the board always struggles with are music and poetry,” he said. “We have less confidence, to be frank with you, in our expertise in those areas.”

“For me it’s been an education to be on the board,” Kennedy added. “I’ve learned a lot — I mean a lot — about the world of journalism.”

President John Hennessy praised Kennedy’s election.

“Professor Kennedy is both a distinguished historian and a celebrated author. I think he will be an excellent co-chair for the Pulitzer Prize Board,” Hennessy wrote in an e-mail to The Daily.

Kennedy joined the University faculty in 1967 and currently serves as the co-director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. His scholarship is notable for interweaving economic and cultural analysis with political and social history.

His other publications include “Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger,” “Over Here: The First World War and American Society” and “The American Pageant: A History of the Republic,” an American history textbook now in its 14th edition.

He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on 20th century American history. Kennedy received the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1988 and the Hoagland Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2005.

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