Though my most frequent contact with Neil Rudenstine has been in our mutual pursuit of a successful University Campaign, my first and still...
Though my most frequent contact with Neil Rudenstine has been in our mutual pursuit of a successful University Campaign, my first and still dominant impression is of an educator with a love for teaching who also has a natural and productive flair for administration. Our first meeting used the perspective I had gained as a long-term chair of the Overseers' Committee to Visit the College to explore for two hours conditions at the College. That was not sufficient; he requested a series of memoranda I had prepared over the preceding half-dozen years.
This type of probe was certainly going on in other areas, for over a short period one could observe not only structural changes as new deans were selected and administrative offices formed and filled--most notably, that of provost--but also a new concentration of presidential interest in the University as a whole. From his deep immersion in each school, Neil identified enormous potential for scholarly enhancement, as well as for resource efficiency, if related research and teaching endeavors from different parts of the University could be linked. In fact, construction of this chain became the primary responsibility of the new provost. Its progress has been evidenced by the emergence of new interschool and interdisciplinary programs.
A new, gentle but highly effective leadership was displayed throughout the University. It benefited from early inquiry into the functioning of the parts, but that education of the educator was not allowed to divert acute focus from the fundraising drive that was already well into its planning phase before Neil arrived. He took control of that crucial project and eventually fashioned a University Campaign as an integral part of his larger agenda. The campaign served his objectives for the institution, and it also proved successful in generating a unifying enthusiasm for the new image of Harvard he designed.
Since the goals of the campaign propounded a march forward, rather than a rebuilding of the past, they called for an articulated analysis. This in turn was dependent upon the smoothly functioning administration that Neil provided through new structures and new people. Campaign success required--and fueled--evidence of scholarly and educational excellence, as revealed by new tenure appointments, an ever-higher "yield" in College admissions, and a constant flow of research. And President Rudenstine constantly reported on the status of and prospects for such accomplishments in his public addresses and private conversations.
As the first University-wide capital drive, the campaign necessitated a collaboration of schools and disparate alumni and alumnae, and its enormous success provided tangible evidence of the benefits of a coordinated multischool university. But in order for these varied interests and individuals to join together, they had to find the faith that it would work. It was Neil who believed so firmly in the goal that he could deliver the intellectual argument with his special brand of charm. He won all of us over to the cause, inspiring broad and deep support. By doing this, he won general admiration as a leader, and also, very fortunately for me, created a deep and lasting friendship. (Throughout, an ardent and eloquent echo from the president's wife, Angelica, subtly reinforced the value of collaboration.)
The ultimate achievement of the campaign was far more than funds. Its lasting contribution will be how Neil Rudenstine used it to reinforce his vision--of a unified institution newly vitalized by reorganization, by student and faculty composition and performance, and by an involved, informed, and integrated alumni and alumnae group.
Sidney R. Knafel '52, M.B.A. '54, served as national cochair of the University Campaign and chairs the New York major gifts committee for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
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