Installment 13: Audio and Video Transcripts

Audio Clip 1: Mike, “I don’t ever want to teach, and I’ve never thought about being a professor.
(Stanford Emeriti Council presentation: 2014, 0:37)


Kirst: I wanted to do the degree in political economy which would be called public policy today. And I was called in for a session [with his [professors].

They said, “You know when you combine disciplines like this, you’re never going to be able to teach in college because they want one or the other.”

And they said, “We’re not signing this paper unless you say you never want to teach in higher education. Otherwise, this is a death sentence! And you know we can’t do this.”

I said, “I don’t ever want to teach, and I’ve never thought about being a professor.”

So, I sign a bloody paper, and they signed the paper. And I completed the degree in political economy.


Audio Clip 2: Mike, “I came out here [to California] as an absolute last resort and wanted to leave as soon as possible.”
(Stanford Emeriti Council presentation: 2014, 0:12)


Kirst: So, let me start with the first part of the career path which I’m going to call “The Accidental Professor.” I came out here [to California] as a last resort and wanted to leave as soon as possible [in 1969]. 


Audio Clip 3: Mike, “And lo and behold Senator Clark loses…”
(Stanford Emeriti Council presentation: 2014, 0:36)


Kirst: And lo and behold, Senator Clark loses. So, the head of the committee called me in and said you’ve got six weeks to get out of your office and move on. And so, I was desperate to stay in Washington. You know, we were saving the world there, right!?

And so, they tried everywhere. Now I’ve had gotten out of civil service and become political. And Nixon had been elected.

So, I couldn’t get anything decent. So, I remembered this contact I had from Dean H. Thomas James at Stanford University. And thought, “Well, okay, we’ll do it and then we’ll go back to Washington.”


Audio Clip 4: Mike, “When [Dean] Tom James was recruiting me” to Stanford…
(Jung interview, March 5, 2020, 2:11)


Kirst:  When Tom [Dean] Tom James was recruiting me> Now I was in D.C.  I remember I had this interview with Tom James in the fall of 1968, before the 68 elections.

And he had a need for somebody to teach federal and state education policy and school finance and stuff like that.

And he had found me through his associate dean named Tim Wirth, later became a U.S. senator. Tim Wirth was the associate dean at the Stanford Education School in 1968. He had been in the White House Fellows when I was working on the administrative side in [19]66, [19]67.

And so, Wirth recommended me. Then another White House Fellow named Tom Cronan, [also recommended me] who became the President of Whitman College and had also been a White House Fellow.

So, two guys in the White House fellows recommended me to James. And James also looked at my resumé—and said at that point–I put on there that I had been in the business school [at Dartmouth] for a semester.  I think he thought this was really unique.

And so we had this meeting in the fall of 68, maybe September, I don’t know. And that’s how I first met Jim Kelly–in D.C. with Tom James, And the three of us were at dinner-talking with me about why I should go to Stanford.

And I wasn’t really interested. I mean, it [Stanford] was a long way away, and I had no idea of being a professor. That just sounded like it was not very interesting compared to all the stuff we were doing [in DC].

I was head of the US Senate subcommittee, and I assumed Senator Clarke was going to be reelected and I would continue. So. you know, I was mildly interested. I knew enough to know elections aren’t certain. I mean, I thought Humphrey was going to win. And then I had Wayne Morse, who was the head of the education committee [of the Senate]. And they had already talked to me that if Clark lost, I could go over there. So, of course, Morse lost, too.

And so, I had all these bets down, and I thought, well, you know, I’ll keep this [Stanford opportunity] on the back burner. [01:06:51] But, you know, somebody is going to win here of these three people.


Audio Clip 5: Checker Finn on Stanford’s Joint MBA/MA Program: “I think it may be unique…that started with Mike Kirst at Stanford.”
(Jung interview, October 25, 2018, 1:19)


Finn: By having a foot in both the ed[cation] school and the business school–I’m not aware of anybody anywhere actually–not just at Stanford–who’s pulled off that kind of a double play.

And it’s very important because it gives you two perspectives that you can attempt to harmonize. And you can use each one to enhance what you’re doing in the other.

It’s not unusual to be in a like an Ed[ucation] school in a policy school like the Kennedy School at Harvard, for example. It’s certainly not unusual to be in business school or in an economics department or business school in the Hoover Institution. But this but business school and ed[ucation] school thing is, I think, may be unique to Mike.

I’ve also over the years, sent a dozen aspiring education policy people to [there] say[ing], “Go check out that dual program at Stanford that started with Mike Kirst.”

A dual degree can open all sorts of opportunities for people. So, for umpteen times–a dozen times—I’ve said to young people who say they want a future education policy, “[but] I don’t know what exactly I want to do.” [I say,] “Go check out that dual program that Mike Kirst runs at Stanford.”


Audio Clip 6: Mike Kirst, On Stanford’s Joint MBA/MA Program
(Jung interview, June 30, 2021, 1:54)


Kirst: Ford Foundation funded a bunch of educational administration programs that were trying to shake up the field, about six or seven of them. The Stanford MA/MBA program was one of them.

We used to convene as a group under the auspices of the U. S. Office of Education. And they had a grant program to rebuild the training of educational administration. And Kelly was at Teachers College [Columbia University], and he held the grant to revise the Ed Admin [educational administration program] at Teacher’ College. So, we began to meet.

Also at that meeting was Edwin Bridges, who headed the program at the University of Chicago. So, we would meet as a group.

And so I got to know [Jim]Kelly there before Ford, and then he transitioned from Teacher’s College to Ford.

And then he [Kelly] put together this school finance thing. And we talked about my role in it and Stanford’s role in it. And then he began to make grants to Stanford to train school finance specialists.

So, we, I, had money–this is for training programs early on. Well, I actually got money from the U.S. Department of Ed[ucation] and Ford to train MBA/MA and Ph.D./MBA. And then I had the grants from Kelly to train school finance researchers.

And then we would meet as a group. And very early obviously, somehow, Kelly, I believe, fixed on Florida as a place that would likely be a good target to pull off school finance reform.


Audio Clip 7: Mike on the Pathbreaking 1973 Florida Education Finance Program
(California State Board of Education meeting July 14, 2021, 0:13)


Kirst: I worked in Florida. And I would say that’s one of the best things I’ve ever done… in 1973-74. We did a total overhaul of the finance and education program there. [It] still lasts [there] in Florida.