At the end of what has been tragic, trying and tiring year President Neil L. Rudenstine reflected last Friday on what has gone right and what lies ahead for the University.
Rudenstine who watched as the University suffered through a tragic murder-suicide, his own three-month leave of absence for severe fatigue and the court confession of two young albums who embezzled $125,000 from an Eliot House charity, has clearly endured one of the most difficult years in recent memory.
"I think our thinking has to be focused on what happens long range in terms of the fundamental educational mission of the place," Rudenstine said.
While the president acknowledged that the year had been filled with horror and tragedy, he stressed the positive accomplishments of the University.
"So what's gone right? It looks to me like next year's freshman class is a appointments we've made his year are very good," he said. "As far as I can see, most people have been about as pleased as they have been with their education."
Rudenstine also pointed to the success of the office of Government. Community and Public Affairs in working with Congress to stave off cuts in student aid and research funding.
In addition he noted that fundraising efforts during the first full year of the $2.1 billion University Campaign were "the most successful year in the history of the University."
"It just depends, I guess, on what your perspective is," Rudenstine said. "But if you're talking about the sort of fundamental health of the place, and its capacity in fulfilling its basic missions, I would think it's been pretty [good]. But this is a moment to go around saying [what a good year it has been]."
Defining the Future
Asked about his vision for the University's future, Rudenstine emphasized the need to continue.
"I hope, first of all, that we can keep going the way we're going," he said.
He emphasized that he hoped the capital improvements and inter-faculty collaboration he has seen in recent years will continue to increase.
"I think that's a long-range job, but I think it's [really important], and if we can make a reasonable amount of progress, that will be terrific," he said.
Rudenstine also discussed the challenges of continuing to find resources in scare financial times.
"We must find the resources for private higher education, which is again the means to the end," said Rudenstine. "It will be harder and harder to make sure that the place really does have the level of resources that are necessary to stay at one."
"Obviously I would like to see some particular projects blossom and bloom, whether it's some of the projects in international affairs, some of the inter-faculty programs, they're all a part of that," he added."
At the end of a tempestuous year, the president said he is looking forward to a vacation, probably in England, before returning to Cambridge to work on his report to the Corporation on financial aid and basic research.