James O. Freedman Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Liberal Arts and Higher Education: Conversation with James O. Freedman, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, former President of Dartmouth and of the University of Iowa; 4/18/01 by Harry Kreisler
Photo by Jane Scherr

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Lessons Learned

One final question, looking back at this journey that you've been on. For students watching or reading this interview, is there one particular lesson that they might draw from this intellectual journey that you've taken?

A lesson I draw is one that my father always taught me, which is about the importance of late bloomers. My father had students in junior year in high school who were C students, and thirty years later they were the Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, and they were college professors, and they were physicians and lawyers. We all mature at different rates. One of the things a liberal education does is to make you ready for the moment. Make the ground ready for the moment when the seed is prepared to drop. I think students too often think, if they're not a success in college, they're a failure forever, or if they're not a success in a professional school. We all grow at different rates. The late bloomers are legion, starting with Winston Churchill and you can go through lists and lists and lists -- Harry Truman. I hope students understand and they're preparing themselves, even if they're not quite sure now where they're going.

President Freedman, on that very positive note, thank you very much for being with us today ...

A pleasure.

... and telling us this journey that you've been on, both intellectually and as a leader of great public institutions.

Thank you very much.

And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation With History.

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