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Installment 10: Audio Transcripts

Audio Clip 1: “My father ruined watching Animal House” but not for Chip’s friends

(Chip Kirst interview with Dick Jung, August 9, 2018, 1:08)

Chip Kirst:  I don’t know if you know this, so stop me if you do, but he [his father] ruined watching Animal House when we watched it together in a movie theatre….because he was a member of that fraternity at the same time it [the movie script] was written. The author of that screenplay was a brother of his, in that same fraternity, and he was using examples and experiences of that fraternity at Dartmouth to write Animal House. And Dad was part of that same fraternity.

So, he’s got some great stories. and a lot of the stories—particularly years ago—he doesn’t do is so much anymore, but he’d sit down, and he’d talk about the old fraternity stories. He would be absolutely in captivating in capturing a room. That’s just who he is.

In fact, when I had him over when I had parties when I was a bachelor in Washington, I’d invite him to come over if he happened to be in Washington. And [for] all roommates and these 20-something friends, he was the life of the party.

They’d say, “You have to keep your father coming over here. He’s fantastic.”


Audio Clip 2: Mike comments on his and Wendy’s 1975 wedding: “Talk about Stanford connections: that’s one.”

(Dick Jung walking with Mike Kirst on Stanford campus, September 27, 2018, 0:24)

Walking through a grove of trees on Stanford University campus near the Center for Educational Research at Stanford (CERAS)

Mike Kirst: Do you know where I got married to Wendy?

Dick Jung: No. 

Kirst: Right there (pointing to the CERAS building). And then we had a reception on the roof of CERAS. Right there! Talk about Stanford connections. That’s one of them. 

Jung: And was Jim (Kelly) your best man?

 Kirst: No. My brother was. But he (Kelly) was here very much so. That’s when he was single.


Audio Clip 3: Wendy struggling in a male-dominated work world in the ’70s and a special dinner

(Wendy Kirst interview with Nancy Mancini, 1:09)

Wendy Kirst (when Wendy Burdsall in the early 1970s): I got a job leasing commercial office space, which had been a challenge because there were no women in it, and I was interviewing all men.

But finally, things evolved, and I did find one man [laughs] in San Francisco who would hire me, and he got me going in commercial real estate. He said, “I need help leasing a building in Palo Alto, if you would be willing to work down there, and I’ll send some of my partners to help you down there. That’s where I need help, leasing the Palo Alto Square office building.”

So, I did that, and I think it went on for about a year, but again, I kept thinking, “Well, I’m at Stanford. I should meet a lot of young people.” But I didn’t. I was thinking of leaving, but then a mutual friend of Mike’s and mine came. He came out here to see Mike and do work on education, and one night the three of us went out to dinner, and there was my hoped-for husband material, Michael Kirst.


Audio Clip 4: “My dad was a season ticket holder for 50 years”

(Chip Kirst interview with Dick Jung, August 9, 2018, 0:45)

Chip Kirst:  Back to football: because that is a major part of his life story.

I mean, he has been a season ticket holder to Stanford for now almost 50 years. And I lived in that stadium. I feel like I grew up in that stadium. We went to every single game in that stadium for my entire childhood.

And we were not talking policy. We were not talking about Washington Weekend in Review or even Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner (chuckles). We were very much focused on the game.

He is a huge, huge Stanford football fan. It’s a major part of who he is and what he enjoys outside of his professional life. It’s just brought him a lot of joy and satisfaction.


 Audio Clip 5: Jim Kelly’s story of Mike and Wendy’s “first date”

(Jim Kelly interview with Dick Jung, September 10, 2018, 1:56)

Jim Kelly: Wendy and I became friends, better friends, you know, but friends. Period. And by this time, I’m already making grants to California from [the] Ford [Foundation]. Wendy took six months-to-a-year off and went around the world, and getting back, she decided she wanted to be a…I have no idea how she got this in her head…she decided she wanted a total change, and she was going to lease commercial real estate in Santa Clara, California.

So when Mike called, and I had seen Wendy on a number of trips out there. We’d actually spent part of a weekend together, again as friends. So, Mike said, “Do you know anybody?” And I said, “Well as a matter of fact I do. And I kind of care for her as a sister. But I have to tell you that if I were not 3,000 miles away, I wouldn’t give you her name. I’d ask her out to dinner.”

So, I called Wendy. And she said, “Sure, I’ll see him. He probably needs a friend. I’ll give a dinner.” He [Mike] said, “Will you come?” And I said, “I’ll be there.”

So, we arranged the date. And at this time, she is starting to lease commercial real estate. I don’t know, she was still studying, I think. And, you know, this was a tiny apartment. All I saw was a small living room. It was like a graduate student-housing size, tiny little kitchen, little table for four, a small living room that was maybe 12- or 14-feet square, or something like that.

We sat down in the living room afterwards. And I’m on the couch, and Wendy was sitting on the floor next to me. And suddenly [it seemed as though] there were only two people in the room: Mike and Wendy.

Damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. And literally, they just talk for about 30, 40 minutes. She grabbed my foot, my shoe, which was up on the coffee table. And she was shaking. I said to myself, “I got to get out of here. These people don’t need us here.” And six months later they decided to get married.


Audio Clip 6: Mike’s first meeting with John Gardner: “Very substantive” and “memorable”

(Mike Kirst interview with Dick Jung, March 5, 2020, 1:32)

Mike Kirst: The first meeting I had with him was about his concerns that the White House Fellows would be spending too much time in meeting high-level government and other officials and taking field trips. Like we took a trip to New York and Chicago…you know, of course, met with the mayor and all those sorts of things. And he felt that they should be spending more time on their job; that they needed…that there was a job/work and [there was] education.

And I was in charge of the education program at the White House Fellows. That meant doing things for them that were beyond their work assignment. And his view was that the work assignment was the most beneficial and the prime thing they should be doing. And he was concerned that there was too much of a…quote…“education program” which took them away from their work. And so, it was the sort of work-versus-education balance.

And he went into a long discussion of that, you know, of how we should work that out. And that was the first meeting. And so, it was a very substantive and somewhat…I wouldn’t call it highly tense…but, you know, he was sort of like, “I’m worried about what you guys are doing.” That’s very memorable when you get somebody of that stature that’s sort of saying, “You need to redress the balance or rethink the balance.”


Audio Clip 7: Chip: A lot of who his dad is coming from Mike’s mother

(Chip Kirst interview with Dick Jung, August 9, 2018, 1:06)

Chip Kirst:  I think it had to be his mother. I don’t think he was very close to his father and his mother just was very special. She had this lightheartedness about her. She would laugh and smile, but she was also strict, and she had certain boundaries and all of that. So, she taught proper behavior, responsible behavior, and all those, but at the same time, she looked at life in a way that said, “Hey, let’s not take things absolutely so seriously.”

Just to share another kind of side note on that…. One of my daughters had a school project three or four years ago, and one of the projects was to interview somebody you really respect. And she picked a grandpa.

And one of the questions though, that she was given to ask this person, was “What was the saddest day in your life?” And his immediate response was “The death of my mother.”

So, the two of them had a very, very special relationship. So, I think, a lot of who he is comes from her.


Audio Clip 8: Jim Kelly: John Gardner’s love for Wendy transferred to Mike

(Jim Kelly interview with Dick Jung, July 21, 2017, 0:20)

Jim Kelly:  John Gardner was like a second father to Wendy Burdsall, who became Wendy Kirst. And then Gardner’s love for Wendy transferred to and embraced Mike. So that’s another dimension to Mike. He had this unbelievably wise man, John Gardner, as a personal friend and mentor.

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About the Project

The purpose of this biography project is to make a fascinating man’s life and accomplishments come alive. Dr. Michael W. Kirst, while recognized in influential academic and policy circles, is generally unknown to those most actively engaged in American education in the trenches of the nation’s classrooms and local boardrooms, including teachers, principals, and school district leaders.

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About the Author

Dick Jung first met Dr. Michael W. Kirst four decades ago. Mike, then Professor in the Schools of Education and Business, was completing his first year as President of California’s State Board of Education. During Jerry Brown’s first term as Governor, as Mike tacked between Palo Alto and Sacramento, Dick served as the Teaching Assistant for Mike’s Stanford “Politics of Education” course.

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About the Team

Dick is supported by a project team of content, digital research, and online experts that includes a senior education policy reviewer, a digital archives manager, and a website and multimedia design coordinator.

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