Lawrence A. Kimpton, 67, former chancellor of the University of Chicago and an administrator of the first atomic bomb project, died Monday at his home in Melbourne Beach, Fla. He had been ill for some time.
By training an educator and philosopher, Mr Kimpton made his primary mark as an administrator. When he succeeded the late Robert M. Hutchins as chancellor of Chicago in 1951, the university faced serious budget problems. Moreover, the neighbourhood in which it was located was deteriorating. Finally, many people looked askance at the innovative programs that the sometimes abrasive Hutchins had started at the school.
When Mr Kimpton left the university in 1961 to begin a career in business, these problems, largely had been solved.
The university's endowment had risen by $100 million, a sum equal to about half of all the money that had been contributed to the university since its founding in 1890.
The Hyde Park-Kenwood neighbourhood around the school and undergone one of the most successful urban renewal projects anywhere in the world. Mr Kimpton (it is the style at the University of Chicago to address professors and administrators as "mister" rather than "doctor" unless they are physicians) headed this effort as the first chairman of the South East Chicago Commission.
At the same time, he changesome of the programs installed by Hutchins. In 1953, about 1,000 students staged a protest at Mr Kimpton's home. But the changes served to win new friends for the university.
Mr Kimpton's annoucement in 1960 that he was resigning as chancellor surprised both faculty and students. He was succeeded in 1961 by George Wells Beadle, a Nobel Prize laureate from the California Institute of Technology.
"Every era of the university has its specail problems." Mr. Kimpton said at the time. He indicated that he felt he had solved the problems he found at the University of Chicago when he arrived and that the time had come for him to leave. He said that the head of any university "can do his best work for it within a reasonably short time."
In a statement issued yesterday in Chicago, John T. Wilson, president of the university, said of Mr Kimpton: "In the long view of the history of this university, it may not be too much to say that Lawrence Kimpton gave the inspiration, the leadership, and the example of courage to the men and women who saved it in very difficult times. And in the history of the intellectual pursuits of mankind, that is a great achievement."
Mr. Kimpton's association with the school began in 1943, when he became chief administrative officer of the Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the first atomic bomb.
He then became dean of students, and two years later was named a vice president of the school. In 1947, he left Chicago to become dean and professor of philosophy at Standard University, where he had earned bachelor's and master's degrees and then returned to Chicago in 1950 as vice president in charge of development.
Chancellor Hutchins persuaded Mr. Kimpton to leave Stanford. When Hutchins resigned a year later to become head of tha Ford Foundations, Mr. Kimpton was chosen as his successor.
When he left the University in 1961, Mr. Kimpton joined the Standard Oil Co(Indian) and became a vice president of the firm. At the time of his death, he was a member of the board of directors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and the E&O Chessle System.
Mr. Kimpton was born in Kansas City, Mo. After studies at Standard, he earned a Ph.D. at Cornell University. He was dean and director of Deep Springs College in California from 1936 to 1941. The following year, he was named dean of the college of liberal arts at the University of Kansas. He remained there until he began work with the Manhattan Project. In his statement yesterday, President Wilson said Mr Kimpton was so modest about his contribution to the University of Chicago and the World of learning "that many have tended to forget it."
Wilson laid particular stress on Mr Kimpton's role in the rejuvenation of the Hyde Park-Kenwood neighbourhood. At the time Mr. Kimpton became chancellor(the title has since been changed to president), "the neighbourhood around the university had begun to seriously affect its ability to attract and hold the best scholars and students."
Partly as a result of Mr. Kimpton's efforts, he continued, "Hyde Park became known throughout the world as the first example of an old city neighbourhood that not only survived but flourished as an integrated, stable, middle-class community."
Mr. Kimpton is survived by his wife, Mary Townsead Kimpton, of the home in Melbourne Beach, a son, John and a stepson, William.