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News Office Director Campbell To Retire at End of School Year

By Kevin R. Lang


After leading the MIT News Office for the past 16 years under Presidents Paul E. Gray and Charles M. Vest, Kenneth D. Campbell recently announced he will retire following the 2002-2003 academic year.

As MIT’s chief spokesman, Campbell has served as publisher of Tech Talk, the official Institute newspaper, and led MIT’s public relations efforts. The MIT News Web page, MIT Research Digest, and MIT E-News were each launched under his supervision.

“My predecessors had each served 15 years, and I’ll have served 17 by June,” Campbell said. “I’ve dealt with probably everything I could think of happening.” Campbell said he plans to do some writing, but otherwise has not decided how to spend his time after leaving the Institute.

“I will definitely miss people,” Campbell said. “This is a terrific place and it’s got a common sense and an openness that aren’t necessarily true of other places.”

Student deaths drew scrutiny

Campbell has seen MIT through some particularly difficult times, especially since 1997, when the death of Scott S. Krueger ’97 brought intense national attention to the Institute. In the months and years following Krueger’s death, any alcohol-related incident at MIT was almost certain to make the pages of The Boston Globe. When the alcohol furor quieted, a string of suicides brought MIT under national scrutiny once again, particularly regarding MIT’s mental health services.

Campbell said that the recent suicides were the most difficult events he had to handle as MIT’s spokesman.

However, Campbell has also been the bearer of his share of good news. Nine faculty members have won Nobel Prizes in economics, medicine and physiology, physics, and chemistry in the past 16 years.

In addition, Campbell helped research, edit and publicize the 1997 study by what was then BankBoston entitled “MIT: The Impact of Innovation.” The report demonstrated the huge impact MIT and its alumni have had on local and national economies.

In 1993, Campbell was essential in MIT’s efforts to get the Justice Department to drop an allegation that MIT’s need-based financial aid violated antitrust laws.

Campbell’s work praised

“Ken has brought extraordinary dedication to facts and to MIT in this key position,” Vest said. “His common sense, analytical ability, writing ability and background in politics and news have been invaluable to MIT.”

Kathryn Willmore, vice president and secretary of the MIT Corporation, said of Campbell, “Through it all, he has insisted that MIT be as forthcoming as possible on complex or controversial issues, as well as on the accomplishments of our faculty, students and staff.”

Campbell started as journalist

After graduating from Yale University, Campbell was a reporter for the Washington Star and an editor for United Press International/London before becoming an investigative reporter, political reporter and columnist for The Boston Globe.

Following his tenure with the Globe, he served as director of public information for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and director of public relations for the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Campbell also founded his own management and communications consulting firm, Kenneth D. Campbell and Co.