PALO ALTO/UNIVERSITY ROTARY CLUB HISTORY
The catalyst for the chartering the Club was Ken Kaufman. Ken was then a member of the main Palo Alto Rotary Club and envisioned a role for a breakfast club with a downtown location that bridged the University Avenue community, Stanford University, and the surrounding communities. The Club was to be more diverse as to age, gender, ethnicity, career paths, and vocations than the typical Rotary club. A clear part of this vision was that it be attractive to the up-and-coming as well as to established professional leaders. The meeting format also was different than other Rotary Clubs at the time. In addition to Ken, key, or nucleus, people listed in the application to Rotary International for a charter were Ray Bening, Sally Mahoney, Bob Patterson, Bo Smith, and Nora Sweeny. The Club was officially chartered on June 10, 1988, with 26 charter members.
From the outset, the Club’s service activities, programs, and recruitment have been directed towards the imaginative accomplishment of the fundamental purposes of Rotarian membership. For example, every meeting begins with a presentation of a member’s vision — a personalized, meaningful statement of the day, the mood, the personal needs of the individual, and the institutional needs of the Club. These personalized commentaries have raised the focus of the Club on service and on other civic interactions. The meeting format eliminated religious practices and fining as a means of fundraising. The idea was to be attractive to energetic members who would translate the founding Rotary vision to those who could carry it with appeal into the future.
Since its founding, the Club has been characterized by an ever-changing membership. In the early years, it grew dramatically in number. In more recent years, this growth has been purposely constrained to preserve our identity and culture. As people leave the Club for relocation and other reasons, others have joined. This has led to self-renewal and new inspiration.