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BOSTON--Francis Keppel '38, a former U.S. Commissioner of Education under President John F. Kennedy '40 and a Harvard lecturer, died Monday at Stillman Infirmary. He was 73.
Keppel was considered a leader in education reform both as U.S. Commissioner of Education under Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1962 to 1966, and as dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1948 to 1962.
Since 1974, he served as director of the educational policy program of the Aspen Institute and as an adviser to libraries, art centers and the World Bank.
Keppel was also active in the creation of the Elementary Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the National Assessment of Education Progress and in the enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in education programs.
After receiving his A.B. degree from Harvard, Keppel studied sculpture for a year at the American Academy in Rome. He resumed academic studies while serving as an assistant dean at Harvard College from 1939 to 1941.
He served as secretary of the Joint Army and Navy Committee on Welfare and Recreation from 1941 to 1943, and as rose from the rank of 1943, and rose from the rank of Army from 1943 to 1946.
In 1948, then-president James B. Conant '14 of Harvard appointed Keppel dean of the Graduate School of Education. In that position he promoted the Master of Arts in Teaching Program and other innovations in teaching.
"Harvard and the nation lose one of their great public servants with the death of Frank Keppel," said President Derek C. Bok. "He was a modest, ethical man; few can equal his lifelong dedication to improving education."
He is survived by his wife, Edith Sawin Keppel of Cambridge; two daughters, Edith Tracy Drury of Waterbury Center, Vt., and Susan Keppel Keller of Winchester, Mass.; a brother, Charles Keppel of Montrose, N.Y.; and four grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Friday at noon in Memorial Church. The family requests that contributions be made to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston in lieu of flowers.
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