Jordan, David Starr (1851-1931) was an American educator, naturalist, and ichthyologist who named 1,085 genera and more than 2,500 species of fish as well as their broader classifications. His highly distinguished reputation as a progressive and foresighted academic leader led to his being named the first president of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, in 1891.
Jordan was born in the rural town of Gainesville, in upstate New York, and as a young man showed a pronounced ability in history and plant taxonomy. He entered Cornell University in 1869 and graduated with an M.S. degree in 1872. In the summer of 1873, his participa ion in naturalist Louis Agassiz 's Summer School of Science led to a lifelong love of “expeditionary biology,” as well as a progressive attitude toward the structure of educational institutions.
In 1885, at 34. Jordan was appointed president of Indiana University in Bloomington and became known as a distinguished academic leader, securing the school's position as a leading educational institution. He was recruited by California Senator Leland Stanford in the spring of 1891 to head up a newly formed university called Leland Stanford Junior University in honor of the senator's son. Jordan's exceptional brilliance in pioneering new ideas of what education should be and what it should provide formed the basis for Stanford University to become one of America's leading educational institutions. He continued there as president until 1913 and was chancellor until 1916, when he retired as chancellor emeritus.
Throughout his later life, Jordan devoted much time and energy to the cause of international peace and was chief director of the World Peace Foundation.
He married Susan Bowen, a botany professor from Mount Holyoke, in 1875. He died in Palo Alto. California, on Sept. 19, 1931.