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Franklin D. Murphy Dies; L.A. Civic, Business Leader : Legacy: Ex-UCLA chancellor, Times Mirror CEO was a Renaissance man with a gift for bringing people together.

June 17, 1994|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Franklin David Murphy was born in Kansas City, Mo., the son of a physician, Dr. Franklin E. Murphy, and a concert pianist, Cordelia Brown Murphy. A straight-A student who quarterbacked his high school football team, Murphy attributed his love of books to his bibliophile father and his love of art to an aunt who was a painter in Paris at the turn of the century.

He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Kansas in 1936, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, spent a year on an exchange fellowship at the University of Goettingen in Germany and earned his M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1941.

Toward the end of World War II, Murphy joined the Army and worked on research into malaria and other tropical diseases, earning the rank of captain and a citation and commendation ribbon.

Returning to his native Kansas City to set up a medical practice, he taught part-time at the nearby University of Kansas School of Medicine. He became dean of the school in 1948, when he was only 32, and was soon named by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of America's 10 outstanding young men.

Three years later, Murphy was named chancellor of the university. He was so popular that when he agreed to leave for Westwood in 1960, students burned the Kansas governor in effigy for allegedly driving Murphy out, chanting, "We want Murphy!"

In his inaugural address at UCLA, Murphy promised to lead the school to "major scholarly distinction in worldwide terms." To achieve less, he said, "would represent unimaginable lack of vision and inexcusable timidity."

During his tenure, UCLA added about 40 new buildings, increased its student body from 20,000 to 30,000, and weathered one of the most politically tumultuous periods for all universities. Although UCLA never saw the student unrest over Vietnam that erupted at Berkeley, Murphy still had to contend with the developing free speech movement. He did it by drawing students into an "advising process" while making clear that he would make the final policy decisions.

When 150 students staged a sit-in outside his office in 1967 to protest his refusal to halt on-campus job interviews by Dow Chemical Co., manufacturer of napalm, Murphy said:

"I do not believe the technique of the dialogue has failed. There has been a momentary break as a result of the passions brought about by the war, but we will not have chronic disorder on this campus. The faculty will not tolerate it and most of the students won't either."

Murphy himself had championed freedom of speech as a student at the University of Kansas, arranging for controversial speakers, including a sociologist who discussed trial marriage--much to the consternation of Murphy's mother.

While calming and building UCLA, Murphy reached into the community to help create Los Angeles County's Museum of Art and Music Center and into the nation to help the Kress Foundation place art in the National Gallery and elsewhere. He earned such respect in artistic circles that Paul Mellon personally asked him to join the National Gallery board and tapped Murphy as his successor as chairman.

Throughout his two decades at the University of Kansas and UCLA and more than two decades at Times Mirror (12 years as chairman and chief executive officer, six as chairman of the board's executive committee and several as director emeritus), Murphy plied his matchmaking talents in a variety of other organizations not previously mentioned.

He served on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Study Committee on Federal Aid to Public Health of the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the U.S. Advisory Commission on Educational Exchange, the State Universities Assn., the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Federal Commission on Government Security, the U.S. Advisory Commission on International Educational and Cultural Affairs to the Department of State, the Peace Corps National Advisory Council, and the Special Medical Advisory Group of the Veterans Administration.

He worked on the board of consultants of the National War College and the board of visitors to the U.S. Air Force's Air University, the Medical Advisory Commission of the American Legion, the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the AMA, the American Council on Education's Committees on Institutional Research Policy and on Problems and Policies, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Presidential Task Forces on both the Arts and the Humanities and on Private Sector Initiatives, the Urban Institute, the board of governors of the American Red Cross and the national council of the Boy Scouts of America.

He also served as a trustee of the California Museum of Science and Industry, the Institute of International Education, the University of Pennsylvania, the Salk Institute, the Eisenhower Exchange Scholarship Program and the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

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