Thomas Kean

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Thomas Kean
Thomas Kean.jpg
President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York
Assumed office
April 15, 2021
Serving with Janet L. Robinson (Acting)
Preceded byVartan Gregorian
Succeeded byLouise Richardson (designate)
Chair of the 9/11 Commission
In office
December 15, 2002 – August 21, 2004
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
DeputyLee Hamilton
Preceded byHenry Kissinger
Succeeded byPosition abolished
10th President of Drew University
In office
Preceded byPaul Hardin III
Succeeded byRobert Weisbuch
48th Governor of New Jersey
In office
January 19, 1982 – January 16, 1990
Preceded byBrendan Byrne
Succeeded byJames Florio
Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
Preceded byBarry T. Parker
Succeeded byS. Howard Woodson
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
In office
1968 – 1978
Served with Philip Kaltenbacher (1967–1974)
Jane Burgio (1974–1977)
Preceded byProportional representation
Succeeded byFrederic Remington
Constituency11-F (1968–1972)
11-E (1972–1974)
25th (1974–1978)
Personal details
Thomas Howard Kean

(1935-04-21) April 21, 1935 (age 87)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
(m. 1967; died 2020)
Children3, including Tom
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Columbia University (MA)

Thomas Howard Kean (/ˈkn/ KAYN;[1] born April 21, 1935) is an American businessman, academic administrator and politician who served as the 48th governor of New Jersey from 1982 to 1990 as a Republican. Kean is best known globally, however, for his 2002 appointment as chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, widely known as the 9/11 Commission, which was responsible for investigating the causes of the September 11 attacks and providing recommendations to prevent future terrorist attacks. He was appointed to this post by U.S. President George W. Bush. Upon the completion of his second term as governor, he served as the President of Drew University for 15 years until his retirement in 2005.

Early life and education[edit]

Kean was born in New York City to a long line of New Jersey politicians and family of Dutch Americans. His mother was Elizabeth (née Howard) and his father, Robert Kean, was a U.S. Representative. His grandfather Hamilton Fish Kean and great-uncle John Kean both served as U.S. Senators. His second great-uncle was Hamilton Fish, a U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, and the 26th U.S. Secretary of State. Kean's relative, William Livingston, was a delegate to the Continental Congress and the first Governor of New Jersey.[2] His mother is also of partial Irish descent as a descendant of John Neilson.

Kean was initially educated at The Potomac School in McLean, Virginia. When he reached the fourth grade, he entered St. Albans School. In 1946, at the age of eleven, his parents then enrolled him at St. Mark's School in Southborough, Massachusetts, the alma mater of his father and two older brothers.[3]

After graduating from St. Mark's, he attended Princeton University and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1957 after completing a senior thesis titled "Niemcewicz (The Biography of a Polish Patriot, 1756-1842, Including His Impressions of America, 1797-1807)."[4] While at Princeton, Kean participated in the American Whig-Cliosophic Society.[5] After working on his father's unsuccessful senatorial campaign, and as a history teacher for three years at St. Mark's School, Kean attended Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City and earned his M.A. in history.[2]

Kean met Deborah Bye at a party in Manhattan and the couple began dating in October 1966.[6] Bye and Kean married at the Old Drawyers Church in Odessa, Delaware, on June 3, 1967.[6][7][8][9] Kean was a longtime resident of Livingston, New Jersey, where he moved to in 1967 during his first campaign for office.[6][10]

New Jersey political career[edit]

Kean with President Ronald Reagan in 1981
Kean with President George H. W. Bush in 1989

Originally a teacher of history and government, Kean was elected, in 1967, as a moderate Republican to the New Jersey General Assembly. He ran with Philip Kaltenbacher, a Short Hills Republican who had served as an aide to Assemblyman Irwin Kimmelman in 1964 through 1966. (Kimmelman would later serve as Attorney General in Kean's administration.) In the Republican primary, Kean and Kaltenbacher defeated Donald Fitz Maurice, Vivian Tompkins Lange, the sister of former U.S. Attorney William F. Tompkins, and Joseph Shanahan.[11]

At the start of the Assembly session in 1972, Democratic leadership had wanted to name S. Howard Woodson of Trenton as Speaker, until Assemblyman David Friedland made a deal as one of four Democrats who voted to give the minority Republicans control of the General Assembly, electing Kean as Assembly Speaker. Woodson would have been the Assembly's first African American Speaker, and charges of racism were leveled by fellow Democrats against Friedland.[12] In the next Assembly, in 1974, the Democrats united behind Woodson for Speaker; Kean then became the minority leader of the Assembly. In 1973, he briefly served as acting New Jersey governor. In 1974, Kean ran for New Jersey's 5th congressional district, but lost the Republican primary to Millicent Fenwick by 0.32%.[13]

During the 1976 presidential campaign, Kean served as Gerald Ford's campaign manager for the state of New Jersey.[2]

1977 gubernatorial loss and aftermath[edit]

In 1977, Kean ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the governor of New Jersey. Although he spent most of his career as a political moderate, in this race Kean ran to the right of New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Raymond Bateman. Kean was unable to obtain the endorsement of many county Republican chairmen, or Gerald Ford, despite having served as his campaign director for the state of New Jersey the previous year.[2] Bateman defeated Kean and won the nomination, though Bateman went on to lose the general election to Brendan Byrne.

After the election, Governor Byrne appointed Kean as a commissioner on the board of the New Jersey Highway Authority. Kean also worked as a political commentator on New Jersey public television.[14]

1981 gubernatorial victory and 1985 re-election[edit]

Governor Thomas H. Kean

Kean fared better four years later, in 1981, when he again ran for governor. Kean made campaign promises to foster job creation, clean up toxic waste sites, reduce crime, and to preserve home rule. He also received the endorsement of Gerald Ford his second time running for governor.

Kean defeated Democratic Representative Jim Florio in the closest election in New Jersey gubernatorial election history; Kean won by 1,797 votes.[14] The election was controversial due to the involvement of the Republican National Committee, who appointed a Ballot Security Task Force that allegedly intimidated voters.[15][16][17] One of his strategists for the Kean campaign in 1981 was Roger J. Stone, a self-proclaimed "GOP hitman."[18]

Kean proved hugely popular in office. In striking contrast to his slim 1981 victory, he won re-election in 1985 with the largest margin of victory ever recorded for a gubernatorial race in New Jersey, defeating Peter Shapiro, then Essex County Executive, 70%–29%.[19] Kean won every municipality in the state except Audubon Park and Chesilhurst in Camden County and Roosevelt in Monmouth County.[20] His coattails were long enough for the Republicans to take control of the General Assembly, flipping it from a 44–36 Democratic majority to a 50–30 Republican majority.

1988 Republican Convention speech[edit]

In 1988, reflecting his stature as an up-and-coming leader of the Republican Party's moderate wing, Kean delivered the keynote speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans. The same year, he also authored a book, The Politics of Inclusion, published by Free Press, which urged political cooperation among historically divided interest groups and politicians.

Gubernatorial legacy[edit]

Kean visiting Fort Dix in 1987

Limited to two consecutive terms as governor by the New Jersey State Constitution, Kean left office in January 1990 as one of the most popular political figures in New Jersey political history. Former New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester, New Jersey Congressman Bob Franks, and other leading New Jersey and national Republican figures began their political and public policy careers in his state administration. He was succeeded by James Florio, who won a landslide victory in November 1989.

In the aftermath of Governor Kean's gubernatorial tenure, the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University New Brunswick's Center on the American Governor, established the Thomas H. Kean Archive.

His legacy includes a "federally replicated welfare reform program, landmark environmental protections, and more than 30 education reforms," according to the Carnegie Corporation of New York.[21] While governor, Kean served on the President's Education Policy Advisory Committee and chaired the Education Commission of the States and the National Governor's Association Task Force on Teaching."[22]

Kean gained a degree of national recognition as the spokesperson for a New Jersey tourism commercial, in which he recited the state's tourism motto: "New Jersey and You: Perfect Together." The campaign, which was revived in 1998 by Governor Christine Todd Whitman, capped a long-term, multibillion-dollar effort to restore New Jersey's shoreline as an environmentally sustainable cornerstone in the state's tourism industry.[23][24]

One unique facet of Kean's leadership was his advocacy for the arts. Leaders in the arts community praised the Governor for his work. This work culminated in the creation of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a highly successful cultural and entertainment center in Newark. Although its creation required roughly $200 million in funding, Kean believed that the cultural center had the power to revitalize the city, making the risk worth it. The Governor also believed that improving the city would strengthen the state as a whole.[25] Kean has remained involved in advocacy for the arts years after his time as governor, criticizing recent state-level funding cuts for being too quick to do away with arts spending.[26]

Kean's inclusive practice of government remains central to his legacy. This legacy found expression in his urban policies and outreach to traditional Democratic constituencies, his aggressive divestment of public retirement funds from South Africa, embrace of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of race on a statewide basis, and his successful primary sponsorship of the bill that established the Educational Opportunity Fund.[27][28][29] This fund appropriated $2 million for direct student aid and support programs for low-income students who demonstrated academic capability but lack sufficient preparation for college. It continues to serve disadvantaged New Jersey students nearly 50 years later. The fund's longevity is indicative of Kean's long-term outlook and the overall strength of his legislation.[30][31]

Cabinet and administration[edit]

The Kean Cabinet[32]
GovernorThomas KeanJanuary 19, 1982 – January 16, 1990
Secretary of AgricultureArthur R. Brown Jr.July 1, 1982 – January 15, 2002
Attorney GeneralIrwin I. KimmelmanJanuary 19, 1982 – January 21, 1986
W. Cary EdwardsJanuary 21, 1986 – January 19, 1989
Donald R. BesoleJanuary 19, 1989 – February 14, 1989 (acting)
Peter N. Perretti Jr.February 14, 1989 – January 16, 1990
Commissioner of BankingMichael M. HornFebruary 8, 1982 – March 20, 1984
Dominick A. MazzagettiMarch 20, 1984 – July 11, 1984 (acting)
Mary L. ParellJuly 11, 1984 – January 16, 1990
Chair/Chief Executive Officer of the
Civil Service Commission
Eugene J. McCaffreyMarch 23, 1982 – September 25, 1986
Commissioner of Commerce and Economic DevelopmentBorden R. PutmanApril 1, 1982 – January 16, 1990
Commissioner of Community AffairsJohn P. RennaFebruary 10, 1982 – November 29, 1985
Gerome R. White Jr.November 30, 1985 – February 18, 1986 (acting)
Leonard S. Coleman Jr.February 18, 1986 – July 6, 1988
Anthony M. Villane Jr.July 7, 1988 – October 26, 1988 (acting)
Anthony M. Villane Jr.October 26, 1988 – January 16, 1990
Commissioner of CorrectionsWilliam H. FauverJune 15, 1978 – December 31, 1997
Adjutant GeneralMajor General Francis R. GerardFebruary 10, 1982 – April 9, 1990
Commissioner of EducationGustav H. RueApril 1, 1982 – July 7, 1982 (acting)
Saul CoopermanJuly 7, 1982 – June 30, 1990
Commissioner of Environmental ProtectionRobert E. HugheyMarch 1, 1982 – January 30, 1986
Richard T. DewlingFebruary 4, 1986 – September 8, 1988
Christopher J. DaggettSeptember 8, 1988 – March 14, 1989 (acting)
Christopher J. DaggettMarch 14, 1989 – December 31, 1989
Helen C. FenskeJanuary 1, 1990 – January 18, 1990 (acting)
Commissioner of EnergyLeonard S. Coleman Jr.February 10, 1982 – February 18, 1986
Charles A. RichmanFebruary 18, 1986 – April 4, 1988 (acting)
Commissioner of HealthShirley A. MayorMarch 5, 1982 – October 4, 1982
Alan N. KoplinOctober 4, 1982 – February 24, 1983 (acting)
J. Richard GoldsteinFebruary 24, 1983 – August 1, 1986
Molly Joel CoyeAugust 6, 1986 – December 15, 1989
David L. KnowltonDecember 15, 1989 – January 16, 1990 (acting)
Chancellor of Higher EducationT. Edward HollinderAugust 9, 1977 – June 30, 1990
Commissioner of Human ServicesGeorge J. AlbaneseMarch 8, 1982 – June 30, 1985
G. Geofferys PerselayJuly 1, 1985 – July 1, 1986 (acting)
Drew E. AltmanJuly 1, 1986 – August 18, 1989
Margaret HowardAugust 19, 1989 – September 7, 1989 (acting)
William WaldmanSeptember 8, 1989 – March 26, 1990 (acting)
Commissioner of InsuranceJohn G. FoleyJanuary 25, 1982 – February 10, 1982 (acting)
Joseph F. MurphyFebruary 10, 1982 – April 16, 1984
Kenneth D. MerinApril 16, 1984 – October 9, 1984 (acting)
Kenneth D. MerinOctober 9, 1984 – January 10, 1985
Jasper J. JacksonJanuary 10, 1985 – March 11, 1985 (acting)
Hazel Frank GluckMarch 11, 1985 – May 10, 1986
Kenneth D. MerinMay 10, 1986 – January 16, 1990
Commissioner of Labor and Workforce
Roger BodmanJanuary 25, 1982 – February 5, 1982 (acting)
Roger BodmanFebruary 5, 1982 – July 1, 1984
William G. Van Note, Jr.July 2, 1984 – October 1, 1984
Charles SerrainoOctober 1, 1984 – January 16, 1990
Personnel CommissionerEugene J. McCaffeySeptember 25, 1986 – June 9, 1989
Charles A. NanryJune 12, 1989 – January 18, 1990 (acting)
Public AdvocateJoseph H. RodriguezFebruary 11, 1982 – May 21, 1985
Amy R. PiroMay 22, 1985 – July 31, 1985 (acting)
Alfred A. SlocumAugust 1, 1985 – March 24, 1986 (acting)
Alfred A. SlocumMarch 24, 1986 – January 16, 1990
Secretary of StateJane BurgioJanuary 19, 1982 – January 16, 1990
Commissioner of TransportationJohn P. SheridanMay 19, 1982 – May 4, 1985
Roger A. BodmanMay 10, 1985 – May 26, 1986
Hazel Frank GluckMay 27, 1986 – July 7, 1989
Robert A. InnocenziJuly 7, 1989 – March 26, 1990 (acting)
State TreasurerKenneth R. BiedermanJanuary 19, 1982 – February 25, 1982 (acting)
Kenneth R. BeidermanFebruary 25, 1982 – March 16, 1984
Michael M. HornMarch 20, 1984 – January 21, 1986
Feather O’ ConnerMarch 7, 1986 – January 8, 1990

Drew University[edit]

Following the end of his second Gubernatorial term, Kean was named President of Drew University, a small liberal arts university in Madison, New Jersey. Kean's considerable standing as a popular former governor of the state was helpful as he undertook an upgrading of the university's campus and academic programs by stressing the primacy of teaching, the creative use of technology in the liberal arts, and the importance of international education. During Kean's presidency, applications to Drew increased by more than 40 percent; the endowment nearly tripled; and more than $60 million was committed to construction of new buildings and renovation of residence halls and other older buildings. Kean was extremely popular among the student body; he would frequently eat lunch unannounced with students in the dining hall, and was a regular spectator at Drew sporting events. Kean served as Drew's president until 2005, teaching a highly selective political science seminar.[33][34]

National policy leadership[edit]

Involvement beginning in 1990[edit]

While leading Drew University, Kean also continued to expand his role as a national political leader, forging close working relationships with the administrations of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton (with whom he had worked closely in the National Governors Association) and George W. Bush, who saw Kean as an important national political ally.

Former Heritage Foundation foreign policy analyst Michael Johns and other national policy and political leaders were recruited by Kean to support and help administer his growing involvement in a broad range of national policy initiatives in the fields of education, environmental, low-income housing, foreign policy and other issues. As governor, Kean had some degree of national recognition as the spokesperson for a New Jersey tourism commercial, in which he cited the state's tourism motto: "New Jersey and You: Perfect Together." With Johns' support, Kean also quickly established foreign policy and national security credentials following his governorship that ultimately proved important in his gaining appointment by President George W. Bush to head the 9/11 Commission.

Beginning in 1990, Kean for the first time began expressing views on foreign policy and national security matters, views that generally mirrored those of the Republican Party. In a December 15, 1991, speech to The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Kean endorsed the free trade initiatives under way by the administration of then-President George H. W. Bush. He also advocated continued U.S. aid to anti-communist resistance forces in Afghanistan, Angola, and to those engaged in supporting democratic change in the former Soviet Union. "To those supporting the Afghan resistance," Kean told the Heritage Foundation audience in 1991, "I say, carry on."[35]

Kean quickly was appointed to the boards of several important foreign policy bodies, including the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which was heavily engaged in supporting democracy-building programs in former Eastern bloc and other nations around the world, and a Presidential advisory commission on a post-Castro Cuba, chaired by former U.S. Presidential Republican candidate Steve Forbes.

Several years later, in 1997, Kean was appointed as an advisory board member of President Clinton's One America Initiative. He also serves as an advisory board member for the Partnership for a Secure America.

Heading the September 11 Commission[edit]

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda, political pressure grew for an independent commission to independently investigate why the attacks were not prevented by U.S. national security organizations, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, National Security Agency and others, and to provide recommendations for preventing future terrorist attacks.

The commission will reassemble in Washington on July 22, 2014, for the tenth anniversary of the issuance of its report. It will assess how well the government is performing given current terrorist threats and make recommendations for changes moving forward.[36][needs update]

Kean serves as a co-chair of the National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) at the Bipartisan Policy Center.[37]

Bush appoints Kean[edit]

The cover of the final 9/11 Commission report
Kean with President George W. Bush and Lee Hamilton in 2004

Bush initially selected former Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger to head the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). But on December 13, 2002, Kissinger resigned as the commission's chairman, under pressure because of potential conflicts with his global business consultancy.

Noting Kean's post-gubernatorial foreign policy involvement and his reputation as a consensus-oriented political leader, Bush nominated Kean to succeed Kissinger in leading the important and politically sensitive Commission.[38] The commission is widely considered the most important independent U.S. government commission since the Warren Commission, which was charged with investigating the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and perhaps the most important in American history given its mammoth responsibility for investigating the causes of the first foreign attack on the U.S. mainland since the War of 1812, and recommending steps to defend the U.S. from future attacks. Kean's appointment to head the commission, and later the work and final report of the commission, drew substantial global attention.

Criticisms of Kean's 9/11 chairmanship[edit]

Just as some had criticized Kissinger's nomination, Kean's leadership of the commission also drew some criticism. Some alleged that Kean did not have the depth of foreign policy and national security expertise needed to manage an investigation so integral to the future of American national security. Supporters of Kean in the Bush administration and elsewhere, however, countered that Kean's work since 1990 as a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, the post-Castro Cuba Commission and his foreign policy and national security commentary and analysis following his governorship established adequate national security and foreign policy credentials for him to assume such a critically important assignment.[39]

Kean on bin Laden: "We had him"[edit]

In December 2003, Kean said that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented, stating: "As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen."[40]

On April 4, 2004, Kean again stated that the September 11 attacks could have been prevented, saying that the United States government should have acted sooner to dismantle al-Qaeda and responded more quickly to other terrorist threats. "When we actually saw bin Laden on the ground, using the Predator or other means, did we have...actionable intelligence? Should we have sent a cruise missile into a site where he was at that point? I think those early opportunities are clear. We had him. We saw him. I think maybe we could have done something about it."[41]

On July 22, 2004, the Commission issued its final report, the 9/11 Commission Report, which concluded that the CIA and the FBI had ill-served President Bush and the American people in failing to predict or prevent the September 11 attacks, which the report concluded was preventable.

Without Precedent[edit]

On August 15, 2006, a book by Kean and 9/11 Commission Vice Chairman Lee H. Hamilton, titled Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, was released regarding the September 11 attacks and the September 11 Commission.[42]

In the book, Kean and Hamilton write that the 9/11 Commission was so frustrated with repeated misstatements by The Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration that it considered an investigation into possible deception by these government bodies concerning their response to the attacks.[43]

ABC's The Path to 9/11[edit]

Kean served as a paid consultant and spokesman for the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11, which aired nationally and without commercial interruption on September 10, 2006. On September 11, the second part of the miniseries aired, also without commercial interruption, with the exception of a 20-minute break at 9 pm ET, when President Bush addressed the nation on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.[citation needed]

While not technically considered a documentary by ABC, prior to its airing, the series drew criticism for misrepresenting facts leading up the September 11 attacks. Many former high-ranking Clinton administration officials, including Clinton himself, and other scholars, publicly questioned the accuracy of the miniseries and asked that it not be aired. Former secretary of state Madeleine Albright called the miniseries' portrayal of her "false and defamatory."[44] Former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine also strongly criticized her character's portrayal, complaining in the Los Angeles Times about the "mythmakers" who created the film, calling the project "false."[45]

July 2007 al-Qaeda video cites Kean comments on al-Qaeda's strength[edit]

On July 4, 2007, the terrorist group al-Qaeda publicly released a video, featuring its Deputy Chief Ayman al-Zawahri urging all Muslims to unite in a holy war against the U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere. The 95-minute video was discovered and released by U.S. intelligence sources and, in addition to al-Zawahri's comments, prominently featured video excerpts of Kean citing al-Qaeda as one of the most formidable security threats that the U.S. has ever confronted, presumably with the intention of bolstering the morale of al-Qaeda supporters through Kean's citation of the magnitude of the movement's strength and threat. Comments by Kean cited on the video include a reference to the fact that al-Qaeda remains as strong in 2007 as it was before the September 11, 2001, attacks.[citation needed]

The video also appeared to validate that al-Qaeda was closely monitoring U.S. political developments, especially including the work of the September 11 Commission, which Kean chaired. It also suggested that al-Qaeda intended to focus not just on engaging the West in Iraq, but also in other countries. "As for the second half of the long-term plan," al-Zawahri says on the video, "it consists of hurrying to the fields of Jihad like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia for Jihadi preparation and training."

Corporate boards[edit]

Kean speaking at the United States Institute of Peace in 2019

Kean has served as chairman of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest health philanthropy; the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy; the Carnegie Corporation of New York; Educate America; the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation; MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Newark Alliance. He has sat on corporate boards including ARAMARK, UnitedHealth Group, Hess Corporation, Pepsi Bottling Group, CIT Group Incorporated, and Franklin Templeton Investments.[21][22][46][47]

In 2006, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the conduct of the United Health Group's management and directors. Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York subpoenaed documents from the company. The investigations came to light after a series of probing articles in The Wall Street Journal in May 2006, which reported on the apparent backdating of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of stock options by UnitedHealth Group's management. The backdating allegedly occurred with the knowledge and approval of the directors, including Kean, who sat on the company's compensation committee during three crucial years, according to the Journal. Major shareholders have filed lawsuits accusing Kean and the other directors of failing in their fiduciary duty.[48][49]


Kean holds more than 30 honorary degrees, and numerous awards from environmental and educational organizations. In addition to those noted above, these include,[50][51][52]

  • The Four Freedoms Award
  • The NAACP Man of the Year Award
  • The Senator John Heinz Award for Public Service
  • The Global Interdependence Center's Frederick Heldring Global Leadership Award
  • The Voice of September 11 Building Bridges Award
  • The National Wildlife Federation's Conservation Achievement Award
  • The Christopher Reeve Foundation's Visionary Leadership Award
  • Jefferson Award for Public Service (American Institute for Public Service)
  • The Arthur W. Page Center's Larry Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication [53]
  • Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2013

New York Waterways named the ferry Governor Thomas Kean in Kean's honor.[54][55] On January 15, 2009, the ferry saved two dozen individuals, when flight 1549 made an emergency landing on the Hudson River.

Personal life[edit]

Kean met his future wife, Deborah Bye, at a party in Manhattan.[7] They began dating in October 1966 and married on June 3, 1967.[7][8] The couple had three children: daughter, Alexandra, and twin sons, Tom and Reed.[7][56] Debby Kean died on April 24, 2020, at the age of 76 after 53 years of marriage.[7][57]

Kean resides in Bedminster, New Jersey.[58] Kean's son, Tom, Jr., is a New Jersey State Senator and Minority Leader of the New Jersey Senate, representing New Jersey's 21st district. Kean Jr. was the Republican Senatorial nominee in the November 2006 general election, losing to Democrat Bob Menendez. The race was expected to be close, but Menendez won by a 9-point margin.[citation needed]

Kean is a weekly columnist for The Star-Ledger, a Newark, New Jersey newspaper, where he and former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne (his immediate predecessor as New Jersey Governor) address issues of the day in a column titled "Kean-Byrne Dialogue". Although the two sometimes disagree (as Kean is a Republican, while Byrne is a Democrat), they occasionally see eye to eye on topics, and both men have expressed great mutual respect for each other. Kean is an advisor to, and has been inducted into, Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity. Kean is a partner in Quad Partners, a private equity firm that invests in the education industry. [59] On November 19, 2007, Kean endorsed John McCain for the 2008 presidential race.

Kean University[edit]

Kean University of New Jersey in Union Township, Union County, New Jersey is named after the Kean political dynasty. In 1958, the school, then named Newark State College, moved from Newark, New Jersey to the Kean family estate in Union Township. The university is located at the ancestral home of the Kean and William Livingston families at Liberty Hall (New Jersey), a National Historic Landmark on the Liberty Hall Campus of Kean University. In 1973, Newark State was renamed Kean College of New Jersey, in honor of the Kean family, and the school attained university status in 1997. The Keans maintain close ties with Liberty Hall and Kean University.


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  22. ^ a b "Thomas H. Kean | Bipartisan Policy Center". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  23. ^ "New Jersey Hall of Fame » Governor Tom Kean". September 11, 2001. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  24. ^ "Governor Christine Todd Whitman Gubernatorial Timeline | Center on the American Governor". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  25. ^ "Kean Proposes Concert Hall For Newark". The New York Times. Newark (Nj). February 8, 1989. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  26. ^ "New Jersey Must Rekindle Its Love of the Arts". May 30, 2007. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  27. ^ Peggy McGlone (April 19, 2012). "Former Gov. Tom Kean gives Drew University a glimpse of N.J. history with his personal papers". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  28. ^ "Governor Thomas H. Kean Biography | Center on the American Governor". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  29. ^ "Executive Orders" (PDF). Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  30. ^ "The Educational Opportunity Program : An Historical Overview" (PDF). Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  31. ^ "State of NJ - Office of the Secretary of Higher Education". July 15, 2010. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  32. ^ "Governor Thomas H. Kean Cabinet and Staff".
  33. ^ "Much "perfect" in Kean's service - New Jersey Hills Media Group - Mobile Adv". August 31, 2004. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  34. ^ Drew University
  35. ^ Kean, Thomas H. "A View from Outside the Beltway: Winning Policy . Themes for the, 1990s" Archived March 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, The Heritage Foundation, December 15, 1991. Accessed August 7, 2007
  36. ^ Bipartisan Commission on September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks,, July 2014; accessed June 19, 2015.
  37. ^ "National Security Preparedness Group" webpage; accessed June 19, 2015.
  38. ^ *Statement by President George W. Bush on the appointment of Thomas Kean to Head 9/11 Commission, The White House, December 16, 2002.
  39. ^ Tom Kean Is Not A Household Name, Scoop Independent News, December 19, 2002
  40. ^ "9/11 Chair: Attack Was Preventable" Archived January 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, CBS News, December 18, 2003.
  41. ^ Thomas Kean appearance, NBC, Meet the Press, April 4, 2004.
  42. ^ *Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, by Thomas Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, Alfred A. Knopf, published 2006
  43. ^ Yen, Hope (August 4, 2006). "Book: Sept. 11 Panel Doubted Officials". The Washington Post. Associated Press.
  44. ^ "Clinton blasts 9/11 film, amid report of changes",, September 8, 2006
  45. ^ Barbara Bodine, "9/11 Miniseries Is Bunk", Los Angeles Times, September 8, 2006.
  46. ^ "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States". August 21, 2004. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  47. ^ Thomas H. Kean. "Thomas H. Kean: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  48. ^ "A Board With Its Back To The Wall: UnitedHealth directors aren't ready to oust embattled CEO McGuire. Here's why",, July 10, 2006.
  49. ^ Joe Conason, Jersey hustler: "Why did former Gov. Kean, once a respected statesman, mislead the public and the press about the accuracy of ABC's 'Path to 9/11'?",, September 15, 2006.
  50. ^ "The Honorable Thomas H. Kean" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 14, 2011. Retrieved 2015-06-19.
  51. ^ "Frederick Heldring Global Leadership Award - GIC International Financial Leaders". Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  52. ^ "National". Jefferson Awards. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  53. ^ "Foreman, Hardage, Kean named 2020 Page Center Award honorees".
  54. ^ Beth Hughes (Spring 2009). "Friend of the Port – NY Waterway Rescue". Port of New York and New Jersey. Retrieved June 7, 2019. Captain Manny Liba and his crew on the Moira Smith rescued 14 people. Captain Brittany Catanzaro on the Gov. Thomas Kean and her crew saved 24 people.
  55. ^ Thad Allen (February 26, 2009). "A Great Day to be Commandant! -- Part Two -- Updated with Photos" (PDF). iCommandant. Retrieved June 7, 2019. At just 20 years old, Petty Officer Catanzaro has already attained her 100-ton license and is a New York Ferry Captain. She was serving in this capacity on the afternoon of the FLT 1549 crash and was one of the first vessels on scene, ultimately rescuing 26 people.
  56. ^ "WEDDINGS; Dorian Drees, Reed Kean". The New York Times. December 10, 2000.
  57. ^ Deborah Kean, wife of former NJ Gov. Thomas Kean, dies
  58. ^ Friedman, Matt. "At 80, former N.J. Gov. Tom Kean is still a force to reckon with", NJ Advance Media for, April 19, 2015. Accessed October 6, 2018. "Asked why he's still popular, Kean — who lives in Bedminster with his wife, Deborah — said it could be that he appointed competent people in the administration, had a good economy through most of his eight years in office and left with accomplishments."
  59. ^ Quad Partners webpage Archived May 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed June 19, 2015.

External links[edit]

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 11-F district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 11-E district

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Constituency established
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 25th district

Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1981, 1985
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
Preceded by Keynote Speaker of the Republican National Convention
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by President of Drew University
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Chair of the 9/11 Commission
Position abolished
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States
Within New Jersey
Succeeded byas Former Governor
Preceded byas Former Governor Order of precedence of the United States
Outside New Jersey