The American University: National Treasure or Endangered Species?

By Ronald G. Ehrenberg | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

IN THE SPRING OF 1995, when Frank H. T. Rhodes retired as president of Cornell University, the faculty thought long and hard about a gift. They wanted to present him with a gift that symbolized not only Cornell but the whole experience, the whole path, we had trod together for eighteen years. We wanted a symbol of the university, a symbol that could be meaningful to a poet, to a particle physicist, to a psychologist, to a professor with extension responsibilities. Finally, we came up with the right answer—a book.

A book seemed to us the proper symbol for what I call the four pillars of our faith. What greater symbol of the creative arts is there than a copy of Leaves of Grass. What greater symbol of research than the famous articles Hans Bethe wrote in 1935 on nuclear physics for the Review of Modern Physics, which shaped the thought of a generation of theoretical physicists. What greater symbol for education than a student grappling with a complex idea in a book. And, finally, what better symbol of outreach is there than that wonderful American invention of the nineteenth

-vii-

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