Ambassadorial legacy helps Bosworth smoothly guide the Trustees

by Jodi Priselac | 11/21/96 6:00am

Having just come from a breakfast with students with only a half-hour until his next meeting, a well-poised Chair of the Board of Trustees Stephen Bosworth took 20 minutes out of his schedule to discuss his role as "College custodian."

A member of the Class of 1961, Bosworth took up his new position and its hectic schedule in June.

The duties of the chair include helping the College's president to set the agenda for board meetings, in addition to serving as a facilitator between the board and the administration.

A smooth transition to the chair

The explanation behind Bosworth's smooth transition so far could lie in his 25-year career in the U.S. Department of State -- complete with stints as ambassador to both the Philippines and Tunisia.

"Everybody likes to refer to [Bosworth's] ambassadorial experience and demeanor as the principal reasons why he will be successful in leading the Board," Provost Lee Bollinger said.

"Steve will be successful, extremely successful, but for different reasons, because he is very smart, very savvy about the academic world and intimately familiar with Dartmouth," Bollinger said.

In addition to his diplomatic training, Bosworth has spent five years on the board as an alumni-elected Trustee. Despite these qualifications, Bosworth said he is still new to his position.

"I have only had one meeting this year," he explained.

Although Bosworth is modest about his past experience, College President James Freedman said Bosworth "really brings to the job a very broad experience and a deep knowledge of Dartmouth."

"He is wise, and he is caring," Freedman added. "I think he will be an outstanding leader."

Trustee Kate Stith-Cabranes '73, a professor at Yale University Law School, said Bosworth always has important and insightful things to say when he chooses to speak.

"He is a man who is able to make qualitative and discerning judgments; he sees shades," Stith-Cabranes said. "His insight will be invaluable."

Bosworth said being chair differs from being a Trustee in that it entails "more work, and you probably have to spend a little bit more time up here," he said.

"When we have meetings [and] you are not the chair, you can occasionally let your attention wander off," he said with a laugh, "whereas if you're the chair, you really can't."

Bosworth said he has enjoyed being on the board and looks forward to his time as its chair.

"I consider myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to do this. It is not for me a drag," he said. "It's really a splendid experience."

As chair, Bosworth said his responsibilities extend beyond Hanover.

"I think about [the board] a lot, [and] I am on the phone a lot, talking to people up here as well as fellow Trustees," he said. "It is far and away, outside of my job, the most time consuming part of my life."

Part of a Trustee's responsibilities include regular weekend visits to the College.

Explaining he previously spent five or six weekends annually in Hanover as a Trustee, Bosworth said, "I don't know how often I am going to be back up as chair, since I just started."

"It's not bad to have to come back to Hanover," he added. "Some of us end up coming back more frequently than that, and I think it's a little bit of a burden, but, by and large, it's great to do it."

When Bosworth does visit the College, his schedule is packed.

"When you come here as a Trustee, you don't have a lot of time. You are literally programmed from about seven in the morning until about 10 or 10:30 at night."

Bosworth said he an other board members take on their responsibilities as Trustees, "to give back to the College."

He described his fellow Trustees as "interesting people -- a diverse group."

His Goals

Bosworth said during his tenure, he does not want to change the board's focus, but to maintain a consensus among board members. He emphasized the board's role as the custodian of the College.

"We are ultimately responsible for the governance of the institution," he said. "We are its custodians; we don't manage the institution ... that's the job of the president. We choose the president, and we are ultimately responsible for the financial health of the institution."

Bosworth said he viewed himself as "a peer among peers ... you're not ruling anything, you are trying to help people form a consensus and build agreements. You tend to be an interpreter, a connecting point between the board and the administration."

He said he would like "to try to do what I can as a Trustee to help Dartmouth to continue to raise its sights and become even more excellent as an institution of higher education."

Dean of the Faculty James Wright said of Bosworth's commitment to academia, Bosworth "is very thoughtful and hard working and is incredibly supportive of the business of the institution, especially of those academic issues which are important to me."

Stith-Cabranes said, "I think [Bosworth] really understands the academic world, in part because he has been watching it his whole life" but also because he has been able to maintain a distance from it.

Bosworth pointed to the quality of its student body as one of the College's greatest strengths.

"Well, I think Dartmouth's great strength, quite frankly, right now, is the quality of its student body," he said. "This is one of the great accomplishments of the Jim Freedman era."

He cited the rise in quantitative qualifications of entering students as the basis for his statement, he added, "my own subjective experience, being here and talking with you people, is that the quantitative assessment is correct that this is a very high quality place."

Bosworth explained that the College's greatest challenge lies in offering the qualified students a similarly high-quality education.

"I think the quality of the student body is both Dartmouth's strength as well as Dartmouth's greatest challenge," he said. "We had better be sure that we are offering you, as students, the same quality of education that you deserve because of your own outstanding abilities."

While he said he did not want to discuss the College's weaknesses, Bosworth did mention some of its other assets -- the faculty and the Baker/Berry library expansion.

"I think the faculty is a great strength ... the physical plant is also great strength," he said, adding, "clearly, the physical plant needs constant attention. Right now, we could use more classrooms, and some students are probably not housed as they would like to be housed. But, by and large, the quality of the physical plant is outstanding."

He noted that the expansion of the library will become an important asset to the College.

"The new library is going to become, as the current library is, but maybe a little bit more, the intellectual focus of Dartmouth College, so I think that is a great thing."

"The new psychology building is going to be very important, [since] it will create more classrooms and more faculty offices," he added.

He described the supercluster as "a very interesting experiment."

"It will be interesting to see if students like this kind of residential life," he said.

From North Korea to Brussels

With 25 years at the State Department, Bosworth now directs two international development organizations and accrues thousands of frequent flyer miles.

Outside of his duties as chair, Bosworth is the Executive Director of the Korean Energy Development Organization, which is a "creative and new international organization which was formed by the governments of South Korea, Japan, and the United States," he explained.

Formed within the last year "with a purpose of implementing an agreement between the U.S. and North Korea whereby North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons in return for receiving some nuclear reactors to produce electricity," Bosworth said the organization's purpose "is to build those reactors, and thus, to deal with North Korea."

"Our organization has about 35 to 40 people, but this is about a $5 to $6-billion project," he added.

Although the organization is based in New York City, Bosworth said he travels a great deal for work, citing his departure the next day for Brussels.

"I travel extensively into Asia and now elsewhere," he said, adding, "I am going to Brussels because I am in the middle of discussions with [the European Union] about their joining our organization."

From 1988 to until this year, Bosworth served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United States-Japan Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation which he described as a group which "makes grants to organizations in the United States, Japan and elsewhere and was designed to improve communication and understanding between the two countries, particularly in the field of education."

Before his appointment to these two posts, Bosworth enjoyed a 25-year career in the foreign service.

"It was a good career, and I am very happy I did it," he said. "I would highly recommend it ... it's not an easy career though. I am not sure I'd recommend anybody do it for their entire life, but I think it is a very worthwhile thing to do."

During his career, Bosworth served in Tunisia, the Philippines and Madrid.

"I spent four years in Madrid at the end of the Franco regime in the late '60s and early '70s, and then I spent several years in Paris."

Highlights of his career include his service as ambassador to Tunisia from 1979 to 1981 and ambassador to the Philippines from 1984 to 1987.

"I've got lots of great stories, but I am not sure I can single any one out," Bosworth said.

Bosworth described his experiences in the Philippines during the change of leadership from Ferdinand Marcos to Corazon Aquino -- an affair which, although fulfilling, eventually made him decide to retire from the State Department.

"After 25 years or so, I decided that I had just been ambassador to the Philippines in a very exciting time," he said. "I had gone through the People Power revolution, and we had gotten Marcos out ... Mrs. Aquino had come in, and it was a very heady experience."

"I couldn't think of anything else in the foreign service that I might do that could be nearly as satisfying as that, so I decided it was the right time to leave," he added. "I had always wanted to do more than one thing in my life."

Bosworth's other achievements in the foreign service include several senior positions in the State Department.

These positions include director of policy planning, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs and deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs.

In between career choices, Bosworth spent eight months in Hanover as a Dickey Fellow.

"I left the State Department several years ago. I came here while I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life," Bosworth said.

Assistant Director of the Dickey Center Gene Lyons said, "as a Dickey Fellow, [Bosworth] advised students on careers in the Foreign Service, met with student groups interested in international affairs and worked with me in teaching the introductory course in International Politics in the Government Department, giving several lectures, especially on American foreign policy."

With such an internationally based career, it is not surprising that Bosworth speaks several languages.

"I speak French and Spanish. I, at one time, spoke a bit of Arabic, and I speak a little street Japanese," he said. "I learned languages after I joined the foreign service [through] a training program which I think is quite effective."

The language training was "tape based and repetition based, and I think it is somewhat like the Rassias method," he added, explaining that he satisfied his undergraduate language requirement with Latin.

Bosworth explained his international experience and outlook helps him in his position as chair of the Board of Trustees.

"I think that Dartmouth needs to strengthen its international dimension," he said, adding, "I think Dartmouth has come a long way in that regard, with things like the Dickey Center and the Rockefeller Center, but I think Dartmouth could be an even better place if it had more of an international dimension to go with the study-abroad programs and things of this line."

Undergraduate years

As an undergraduate, Bosworth cultivated his interest in the international dimension by choosing to major in International Relations, an interdisciplinary major that no longer exists.

"I applied to law school, and I had been accepted by a couple of good law schools, but I was not sure I really wanted to go into law ... it was a way to gain a few more years of being able to avoid a decision," he said. "So, in the end, I joined the Foreign Service, and I have never regretted it."

Bosworth was involved in many activities on campus.

"I played freshman football and freshman baseball, [and] I was in a fraternity," Bosworth said. "This was at the height of the first flurry of activity about fraternities because Dartmouth just a few years before approved a referendum which said that fraternities with nationally imposed discriminatory clauses could not stay on campus."

"I was a member of Sigma Chi, so I was president the year we went from Sigma Chi to The Tabard," he explained. "We created a new local organization."

The road less traveled

"I have reached the point where travel is no longer glamorous for me," he said. "Getting there is tedious, but when I am there, if it's a new place, I enjoy it. But I am really happiest when I can stay at home."

"I try to enjoy as much as possible the life of New York -- the theater, movies, things like that. it's a great city - a great place to live."

A middle-aged Bosworth does his share of exercise too.

"I get up at 6 o'clock in the morning and go to the gym," he said.

Bosworth has been married twice and has two children by the first marriage. He and his second wife have been married for 12 years.

"I have two children, and my wife has two children, but none of them went to Dartmouth," he said. "My kids, of course, grew up abroad a lot, and I didn't spend a lot of time coming back to Dartmouth."