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Alan Grundmann, inaugural Administrative Director of JRBP, has passed away

Alan Grundmann at Jasper Ridge in 1992 (photo by Monika Bjorkman)

Alan Grundmann was the first administrative director of Stanford's nearly 1,200-acre Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, a position he held from 1976 until his retirement in 1993.  In addition to overall responsibility for the entire preserve, Alan oversaw the transition of the Searsville site from a recreational area visited by people from all over the San Francisco peninsula for swimming, picnicking, boating, bike-racing, baseball and volleyball, to a fully protected reserve dedicated to research, conservation, and education.  That transition included building fences where necessary, launching a docent program, acquiring basic equipment, and repurposing utilities and facilities, including turning the Searsville snackbar into a place where scientists could work and small classes could meet.  One of the classes was the docent training class, a project of Alan’s that fostered local support for the preserve as well as providing a public service through docent-led tours; it evolved into the preserve’s flagship course.  This huge portfolio of responsibilities demanded a jack-of-all-trades who could accomplish miracles on a shoestring, and at the same time be a bridge between the academic community, neighbors, agencies, and public officials. 

Alan was the perfect fit.  He came to Jasper Ridge from his position as assistant provost responsible for building renovation, new construction, and management of academic lands, and applied his comprehensive knowledge of Stanford’s operations to fledge Jasper Ridge.  By nature Alan was both a meticulous planner and a gregarious ambassador, which served him well in cultivating support for the preserve.  He understood that longterm protection of Jasper Ridge would depend on a broad community seeing it as an irreplaceable treasure.

In 1992-93, Stanford awarded Alan the Cuthbertson award, which recognizes extraordinary contributions to the achievement of the goals of the university. Nominated for the award by his academic colleagues, Alan was recognized in particular:

“For his dedication and commitment to the land, using ingenuity, frugality, and an appreciation of natural environments to create a wildlife sanctuary that is both a friendly and accessible treasure as well as an important research center for the Stanford community;

“For his development of an on-site laboratory, docent center, and library of archival and reference material, including a collection of aerial photography of the preserve that has become essential to many research projects; and

“For his farsighted and fair approach to balancing the needs of the wide variety of preserve users, an achievement made more impressive by an ardent devotion to preserving the land and its natural inhabitants.”

Everyone who cares about and enjoys Jasper Ridge is a beneficiary of Alan’s commitment, good nature, and vision of how to protect this living laboratory.