In Memoriam Summer 2017
Eamon Kelly, who rose from mail clerk to program officer at the Ford Foundation and later revived the fortunes of Tulane University as its president—“a man for all seasons”, said an academic colleague—died June 28 from complications of surgery at the age of 81.
Mr. Kelly was a student at Fordham University when he went to work in General Services at Ford, first as a mail clerk and then as a mail messenger. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1958 from Fordham University and a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1960, when he left the Foundation.
He earned a doctorate in economics from Columbia in 1965 and taught at Pennsylvania State University before going to work for the administrations of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, working on such issues as the nation’s first private domestic satellite system and the federal government’s first minority business development program.
He returned to Ford in 1969 as a program adviser in the Social Development program, becoming its Program Officer in Charge in 1971. Three years later he was named Officer in Charge of the Program Related Investment office and resigned in 1979 to become chief financial officer at Tulane.
He rose quickly at the New Orleans university, becoming its executive vice president, interim president and then president by 1981, serving until he retired in 1998.
“Eamon’s impact on the history of Tulane cannot be overstated,” said the university’s current president, Michael Fitts. “During his 17-year tenure, the university experienced remarkable growth in its academic stature and reputation as a leading institution of research and scholarship.”
He also put the university on a sound financial footing after it had run a deficit for several years, increasing its endowment from $50 million to $406 million and its net worth from $190 million to $610 million.
But he was best known for actions he took that demonstrated what one colleague called his “strong moral compass”.
One of his early and key moves was to strengthen diversity on the campus. Under his guidance Tulane hired the first female and African-American vice presidents, and attained, according to Fitts, “the highest percentage of African-American students of any major private research university in the United States”.
That sense of doing the right thing was demonstrated in 1985 in what was described as the “defining moment” of his presidency, when Mr. Kelly, in a highly controversial move, ended the basketball program after it became embroiled in a scandal involving point-shaving, payments to players by the coach and allegations of drug use.
It was not a hard decision for a man who believed, said his son Andrew, that “universities are for education”, and the point of college sports is not to serve as farm teams for professional organizations but to enable young people to get an education.
Students, alumni and fans were incensed, but he said at the time that “The only way I know to demonstrate unambiguously this academic community’s intolerance of the violations and actions we have uncovered is to discontinue the program in which they originated.”
But he also demonstrated another trait he was praised for, fairness, when he allowed the team to be reinstated after three years when students and athletes said they shouldn’t be punished for something that happened before they arrived on campus.
He was 62 when he retired, turning to what his son said was his “central passion. He was devoted to the people of Africa and doing whatever he could to improve conditions there.” He spent about two months of each year in Africa and, with his wife, Margaret, focused his energies and commitment on a school in northern Uganda for children threatened by civil war violence.
After his retirement, he chaired the boards of several national and international organizations, including acting as chairman of the Association of American Universities, comprised of the 60 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. He also co-founded Tulane’s Payson Center for International Development.
In addition to his wife and son Andrew, he is survived by two other sons, a brother, and nine grandchildren.
Jerome W. “Jerry” Anderson, who worked in the Office of the General Counsel of the Foundation and in Finance and Investment in the 1970s, died July 4 in Boston from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). He was 73.
His life was a seamless blend of legal and investment skills, social justice pursuits and intense private enjoyments.
“It was characteristic for Jerry,” wrote his family, “to make his grand exit on July 4th, one of his favorite holidays, when he would invariably be found piloting a vintage truck packed with youngsters past the cheering assemblage at the Block Island parade.”
Sheila Avrin McLean, who worked with Jerry at Ford, recalled him as “a formidable and fun colleague”.
They worked together in the Office of General Counsel “on innovative legal issues like the then new concept of investor responsibility on social issues. Jerry also worked on complicated issues of real estate investments, new to foundation portfolios in the 1970s. He moved over to the Finance and Investment area of the Foundation, which formed the underpinning of his main career in investment management.
“We shared a drive to apply our skills to socially useful pursuits. For example, while we were neighbors in New York City, he helped found the volunteer association, Carnegie Hill Neighbors, still a thriving organization today devoted to improving the quality of life in the area it serves.
“I have strong memories of his insightful comments on current events, laced with knowledge of historical antecedents and great wit, especially when debating points of difference. He was a lovely friend.”
Paul Feinberg, now senior counsel to the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, Ohio, recalled working with Jerry at a difficult time for the Foundation, when the market decline of the early 1970s caused the Foundation’s portfolio to be reduced by almost half, and the Tax Reform Act of 1969 imposed rules that had the potential to limit its investing activities.
“Educating the Foundation staff about these new limitations was a challenging task,” Feinberg wrote. “Jerry did this with grace and skill. He was able to quickly gain the confidence of the investment staff and worked well with the Foundation’s investment consultants.
“One of his major efforts was working on guidelines for the Foundation’s real estate investment program that was undertaken during Roger Kennedy’s tenure as vice president for finance.
“He also had to deal with the intricacies of real estate workouts when real estate projects got into trouble.”
Jerry, a native of Tucson, Ariz., graduated from Stanford University in 1966 and the Stanford Law School in 1969, where he was awarded the James Birdsall Weter Prize for his history thesis, and a fellowship to study law in Paris.
He went to work for the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell on his return from Paris before joining Ford. He later worked for Citibank International Investment Management and then founded Boston Investment Advisers.
Described as a “visionary, volunteer and entrepreneur”, he helped found Investor Responsibility Research Center, which funds environmental, social and corporate governance research and took an early lead in pushing for divestment of activities in South Africa under its apartheid system. His literary interest led him to help develop the Proust Society of the Boston Athenaeum, and his civic commitment, begun in New York City with the Carnegie Hill neighborhood group, prompted him to be a charter member and treasurer of the Block Island Conservancy, an environmental group on the island off the coast of Rhode Island where he had a home in addition to his residence in Boston.
Recently his fraternity at Stanford, Beta Theta Pi, endowed the Jerry Anderson Prize for History, awarded annually for outstanding undergraduate research.
He was, said his family, an amateur historian, literary critic and essayist, and “renowned for his sophisticated but sturdy culinary style, acquired during postings in Paris, New York City, London and his native Tucson”.
He is survived by his wife, Priscilla; two daughters; a son; three grandchildren; a brother; and two step-sisters.
Lori Matia, who was a grants administrator at the Foundation for nearly two decades, died July 4 at a hospice in the Bronx in New York City after a long struggle with cancer. She was 58.
Ms. Matia started working at Ford in 1990 as a Grants Administrator and was promoted to Senior Grants Administrator in 1996. She joined the president’s office in 2015.
Through her work overseeing grants managers, grants and management budgets she also provided operational and management support to staff working in human rights and governance, education, creativity and free expression.
“She was an amazing partner who taught me Ford administrative protocol and practice,” said Darren Walker, the Foundation’s current president. “I also came to understand Ford’s culture and history under Lori’s tutelage. She has been a steadfast and persistent, problem-solving colleague and friend. Lori was the person I turned to when I needed help and guidance through complex situations.
“In addition to her high proficiency as senior grants administrator,” he said, “Lori brought joy, laughter and fun to work every day.”
Ms. Matia, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude in art history from Duke University and a master’s of education degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Before joining Ford, she worked in New York City for the International Institute of Education and as a researcher for the Educational Research Service in Arlington, Va.
Survivors include four sisters.
Mary Durcan, long-time resident nurse at the Foundation’s headquarters in New York City, died June 15 in Elmhurst, N.Y., at the age of 93.
A native of Ireland, Ms. Durcan was a “very genteel lady who took pride in her Foundation affiliation and caring for the various staff members who needed her attention,” said Jane Dunne, who worked in the comptroller’s office at Ford. “She was a true professional, and very much a part of the Foundation family.”
“Mary took care of New York and overseas visiting staff by giving them shots, scheduling annual physicals and providing encouragement to staff in their diet or exercise regime,” said Sheila Nelson, who worked in the Asia and Pacific and Human Resources offices. “She also acted as an intermediary during on-site emergencies by administering to a patient until the ambulance arrived, provided supervised care when a staff member fell ill, and was called on to stand by when the Foundation hosted parties for trustees and retiring officers.
“All of this was done with good grace while wearing a white nurse’s uniform, cap and white shoes, which are no longer de rigueur.”