Rudenstine Calls on Alums To Make Harvard 'Forever'

* President requests continued support, calls for 'long-term' presence overseas

Harvard garnered another Latin epigram this Saturday: Harvars longa, fortuna breva, pecunia fugienta.

"Fortune is fickle, the markets will falter, but Harvard has to be here forever," President Neil L. Rudenstine told more than 600 alumni leaders--including the University's biggest donors--this weekend in the second major address of Harvard's $2.1 billion capital campaign.

Though it may not have the simple ring of veritas, campaign leaders got the President's point: Harvard may be doing well--its budget is nearly balanced, the endowment just passed $11 billion and the campaign is 80 percent complete, with two years to go.

But the $500 million needed to reach the campaign goal is still undoubtedly needed, he added.

"So if we are asked whether we can coast through the rest of the campaign with $500 million still to raise or whether we can rest--soporifically tranquilized--on our endowment laurels, then our reply--I feel certain--must be that we dare not," he told a crowded Sanders Theatre.


Rudenstine's speech capped the University Campaign Leadership Forum--a weekend of panels and meetings, dinners and speeches for the campaign's alumni leadership.

But his speech was not just another campaign plea. Rudenstine also used the opportunity to spell out some revolutionary aspects of the University's broader agenda as the 21st century approaches.

Many of his points were drawn from some of Rudenstine's favorite themes: internationalism, information technology and diversity. But there was new substance to his suggestions.

In addition to funding more world travel and research for professors and students and admitting students from around the world, Rudenstine proposed for the first time that Harvard create "a limited number of outposts overseas."

"We need to be able to sustain [professors'] projects over time, to build long-term relationships with people and nations abroad and to place ourselves more directly in touch with the societies that we study," he said. "In other words, we need to extend our wings--tentatively, carefully, but with some sense of real excitement."

Rudenstine said in an interview afterwards that this was among the most important of the new ideas contained in the speech.

Perhaps responding to last year's controversy over the small number of tenured women professors, Rudenstine touched on Harvard's "commitment to the education and advancement of women" and pointed to a number of initiatives in this area.

Three years ago, Rudenstine gave the campaign kick-off speech to many of the same audience members in the exact same room. His earlier speech, though, was more personal in tone and emphasized the donors' important role in Harvard's history, citing, among other anecdotes, how Harvard got its first observatory.

Saturday's audience--which included top brass from Mass. Hall, members of the Corporation and Board of Overseers as well as prominent alumni and donors--responded favorably to the speech and seemed overcome by the breadth of Rudenstine's 16-page lecture, which he has composed off-and-on over the past 18 months.

"I thought it was very much to the heart of the matter, very encyclopedic and in that sense very uplifting," said Perry D. Caminis '60.

Officials said they hoped the weekend would inspire alumni leaders for the waning months of the campaign and, according to listeners, it did.