University of Rochester

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In Memory of David T. Kearns


The students, staff, and faculty of the Kearns Center join the Kearns family and the world in mourning David's death.  David's life and work demonstrate that true leadership demands courage, creativity, and love.  It was a privilege to have known him, and to have shared our successes with him over the past nine years. With heavy hearts, we bid him farewell.

Dr. Beth Olivares
Associate Dean for Diversity Initiatives
Executive Director of the Kearns Center

Read the full obituary

Send a message to the Kearns Center

The family of David T. Kearns requests that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations be made to the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Arts, Sciences and Engineering.

To make an online donation, please click here.

If you prefer to mail your donation, please use the following address:

University of Rochester
Office of Gift and Donor Records
Attn: David T. Kearns Memorial Gifts
300 East River Road
P.O. Box 270032
Rochester, NY 14627-0032

David Kearns awarded Frederick Douglass Medal
University of Rochester
September 23, 2008

"The Kearns Center continues to be guided by David’s example of fearless leadership and a vision in which all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, familial background, or any other characteristic, should have access to high quality education, and be free to pursue their interests unhampered by economic, educational, or social barriers.  Now serving over 250 high school, college, and graduate students each year, the Center’s programs remain a living testament at UR to the example David set throughout his storied career."
-Richard Feldman, Dean of the College

"I can think of no individual who gave more of himself to help others than David Kearns. Chief Executive Officer of a major company, he came to Washington and served with great honor, distinction, and commitment in our Department of Education. A lot of leaders would have insisted on being number one. Not David Kearns. He gave up a lot to help raise the quality of education in the United States, and I will always be grateful to him."
-President George H. W. Bush

"I, for one, believe there is no other person more responsible for moving significant numbers of African-Americans solidly into the middle class. What he helped to begin at Xerox is now producing great numbers of African-American Executives, and I personally know of a number of major corporations that have adopted these tactics as well. It was his wisdom and foresight that allowed this to flourish."
-Francis Price, Trustee, University of Rochester
President, Interact Performance Systems

"In my estimation, David Kearns is at the top of the list of CEO's in America. Under his former leadership at Xerox, he proved that fairness in the workplace is an achievable goal. His record of accomplishment comes through his awareness and sensitivity of the diversity of our nation, and through that prism he mentored and appointed more African-Americans to leadership positions than any other CEO of record. As a man, he is beloved. As a corporate executive, he is the bellweather by which all other CEO's are measured."
-Earl G. Graves, Founder and Publisher, Black Enterprise