The Austin College community lost a legendary professor and good friend December 6, 2017, with the death of Dr. Kenneth W. Street, professor emeritus of political science. He was 90 years old. For more than half a century, his name was synonymous with preparation for careers in law and government at the College, guiding hundreds of students and maintaining contact with many alumni far into their careers. He spent nearly 40 years in the classroom during an Austin College career that included teaching on many topics, with special emphasis on Constitutional law, the presidency, the legislative process, political parties, and political theory. The tall, dignified gentleman, known to many students as “Dr. God,” inspired a good bit of awe in his students and great respect and gratitude in alumni.
A memorial service is scheduled during the 2018 Dr. Kenneth Street Law Symposium at Austin College on February 12. The service will be held at 4 p.m. in Wynne Chapel, followed by a reception in Collins Alumni Center.
A Texas native, Street earned a bachelor’s degree in geology at Texas Tech University. He and his wife, Louise, who died in October 2013, married in 1950 and began their life together as he served as a teacher, coach, and principal in public schools. A few years later, he returned to Tech to earn his master’s degree in government. He spent a year teaching political science at Wichita State University before earning his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Street joined the Austin College political science faculty in 1959. He held the John D. Moseley Chair of Government and Public Policy from its establishment in 1981 until his retirement in 1998.
In addition to classroom teaching at Austin College, Dr. Street was a long-time pre-law advisor; regularly arranged student internship opportunities in Austin, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.; and coordinated the College’s Sumners Foundation Scholarship Program. His campus tenure included service as chair of the Political Science Department; chair, associate dean, and dean of Social Sciences; as well as service on various College steering committees and as a member of the College Council. He was chair of the President’s Committee on Institutional Integrity, director of the Community Services Program, and director of the Social Science Laboratory.
During his teaching career, he kept a hand in government projects and was one of four political scientists from Texas selected to attend a 1961 seminar of the American Political Science Association. He served as an administrative assistant to Congressman Ray Roberts in work on the Great Society initiative in summer 1965 and served as a legal assistant to Congressman Roberts in summer 1973. For several years, he conducted research on Texas elections for the Institute of Governmental Affairs in Washington, D.C., for the publication America Votes.
Dr. Street and his late wife raised their two children in Sherman, where he was active for many years as a consultant to the Goals for Sherman program, serving as a member of the writing team that wrote the city goals. He also served as a delegate to county and state Democratic conventions several times. Dr. Street’s career also included writing for numerous professional publications and speaking at many colleges and universities. He was active in several professional organizations and honorary societies.
Dr. Street spent three sabbaticals—1978, 1986, and 1992—serving as visiting professor at Stanford University and as a research associate at UC Berkeley. He also served a summer as a visiting professor at the University of Houston.
Named a Minnie Stevens Piper Professor for teaching excellence, he also received many honors from Austin College, including the 1993 Homer P. Rainey Award for Outstanding Achievement and Service and the 1996 Excellence in Teaching Award. He was a 2008 honorary inductee into the Austin College Athletic Hall of Honor and received an Outstanding Organization Sponsor Award for work with the Pre-Law Society and a T. Ellis Lockhart Spirit Award for support of Austin College athletics.
In recent years, he has been honored with the naming of the College’s Kenneth Street Law Symposium and the College’s mock trial facilities, the Kenneth Street Advocacy Courtroom in Abell Library. The College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during Commencement 2015 in recognition of his many contributions. Alumni and friends funded the Kenneth W. Street Endowed Presidential Scholarship at Austin College in recognition of his remarkable career.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Kenneth W. Street Endowed Presidential Scholarship or by calling Gillian Grissom Locke ’07, associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, at 903.813.2336.