Excerpts From President Rudenstine's Speech to Alumni Leaders

On planning the campaign:

"I still remember vividly the dim-lit drama of those early days, when we were just starting to plan--long before acting--and when our ideas were like the vapors and mists in the opening pages of the Book of Genesis: 'without form and void,' as the Good Book says, surrounded by all that darkness which lay 'upon the face of the deep.' 'We will have to raise,' someone said, 'at least $3 billion.' 'There will have to be,' said another, 'an irresistible, scintillating plan--written, illustrated, printed and distributed within four months, so that we can launch the campaign by spring.' 'And the whole University must be included,' said another, 'working in its traditional, coordinated, flawless, non-competitive, polyphonic, friction-free way--so that sights can be raised; crescent moons can become full; tides can swell; and all our tubs can paddle off together, to the happy isles, where there will never be Jabberwocks or even Snarks to snare or bedevil us.'"

On the future:

"We should never expect any existing situation--whether gloomy or glittery--to last indefinitely, or even for very long. This seems self-evident. But our collective memory is often short-lived, and we have to keep reminding ourselves that today's economic euphoria tends to anesthetize any trace of yesterday's lugubriousness. Also, vice verse. Certain kinds of institutions, however--and especially universities--cannot exist or thrive if they allow themselves to ride too closely the ups and downs of every minor or major boom or bust."

On future demographic changes:


"This will not be easy. The history of our species does not suggest that we have often managed to get on so very swimmingly together, in the same little pond, over the centuries. When he was president of France, de Gaulle--not always impeccably patient in the face of contrary views--once asked in exasperation: 'How can you [possibly] govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?' Well, our little planet is now much further along the path toward an infinite number of anthropoid specimens, and we need to learn how to cope with all that."

On women's initiatives:

"Collaborative work with Radcliffe has helped Harvard to make progress in several of these areas. There is still much to be done, but the signals are pointing in the right direction. I am also happy to report that we have, during the past year and a half, received a number of campaign commitments--amounting to more than $5 million--that are specifically intended to support some of the Harvard initiatives I have just described, as well as others that may evolve. This is a real boost, and points the way forward.

On information technology:

"If we are interested in advancing the cause of excellent teaching and learning in Harvard College and through the University, then the new technologies--properly used--are very much on our side. They also remind us of the ideal I mentioned earlier--the goal of integrating research, exploration, teaching, discovering and learning in a way that dissolves the lines between them, bringing faculty and students together in what is really a common pursuit."