Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Adaptation and Change in the American University; Conversation with Frank H.T. Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell University; by Harry Kreisler; 3/31/99.

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Frank H. T. Rhodes, who is President Emeritus of Cornell University and the 1999 Jefferson Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley. A geologist by training, Professor Rhodes has published widely in the fields of geology, paleontology, evolution, the history of science, and education. During his 18-year tenure as president, Cornell increased minority presence in its student body from 8% to 28%. The number of women and minorities on the faculty doubled. Student evaluations and advising were added to the tenure process. Research funding tripled, from $88 million to more than $300 million. And Cornell undertook new initiatives in Asian Studies, super-computing, biotechnology, and nano-fabrication. Under President Rhodes, Cornell completed a $1.25 billion capital campaign and ended deficit spending. President Rhodes has also been a national leader in advocating education and research, and he's played a significant role in the development of national science policy under several presidents.

  1. Background ... education ... developing a sense of leadership ... drawn to a career
  2. Leadership in the University ... elements of leadership ... differences between public and private ... slow pace of change ... culture of campus ... challenges facing undergraduate education ... affirmative action ... the importance of a vision ... changes in the university
  3. Future of the University ... the information economy ... technology and university culture ... loss of the monopoly of power to confer degrees ... university as repository of ethics ... planning for the future ... changes in the curriculum ... an undergraduate bill of rights ... reform of the Ph.D
  4. Lessons Learned ... the importance of flexibility ... actively creating

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