Saving Lives, Saving Knowledge

GUEST: Mark Angelson and Allan E. Goodman,
AIR DATE: 11/16/2013
VTR: 10/10/13

I’m Richard Heffner, your host on The Open Mind. And those of you who have joined us here before know that each week I end our program…”As an old friend used to say, Goodnight and Good Luck”.

Well, that “old friend” – and dearly missed mentor – was, of course, Edward R. Murrow, America’s best and best known broadcast journalist.

And this week, quite appropriately, I’m able to begin Open Mind with a Murrow reference as well. For as all who knew him understood, Ed was first and foremost an educator.

And he was famously, indeed quite boldly to argue in his notable 1958 Chicago speech to the Radio and Television News Directors Association, for him, broadcasting’s instruments – radio first, then television – “can teach…can illuminate…can even inspire…but only to the extent that humans are determined to use [them] to those ends. Otherwise, [they] are only wires and lights in a box.”

Thus, Murrow the educator, tying him so closely to our program today about teaching and learning, about scholars and scholarship the world over, about IIE, the renowned Institute of International Education and its dedicated Scholar Rescue Fund, where, indeed, in the early 1930′s a young Edward R. Murrow became IIE’s Assistant Director, going on then for so many years to CBS and ultimately to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Cabinet as Director of the United States Information Agency.

So that we come full circle today, for joining me here to discuss IIE and its work “Saving Lives, Saving Knowledge” around the world are two of its distinguished leaders.

Dr. Allan E. Goodman is IIE’s 6th President. Previously, he was Executive Dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, served as Presidential Briefing Coordinator for the Director of Central Intelligence, and has had a long and distinguished career in foreign affairs and in the Academy.

Mark A. Angelson is a famed attorney and corporate leader. Among his many contributions to public service is a recent stint as Deputy Mayor of the City of Chicago and, of course, his long time work as Treasurer of the
IIE Board of Trustees and Chairman of IIE’s key Scholar Rescue Fund.

And a personal aside: Mark Angelson was recently inducted into Rutgers University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni…the highest honor the University can bestow on an alumnus… this one, incidentally, who, more years ago than either of us will admit it, was one of my best students ever!

Gentlemen, welcome. Enough of an introduction. Ah, not enough though, ever, to talk about Ed Murrow and I, I must say that in the materials that you distribute to the world explaining IIE … you do remind us that Ed was your Assistant Director.

I was enormously impressed with the list of names of scholars you brought over here and helped preserve back in those days. Do you still do the same thing today? Either one of you is the one to whom I put the question. Allan …

GOODMAN: Well, the bad news is it’s still needed today. It’s needed more than ever. And in addition to being an educator, Murrow was an internationalist. He believed in active engagement in the world and rescuing scholars was one of them.

Mark likes to say Scholar Rescue is a growth business and he wishes he didn’t have to say that because it is a depressing commentary on our time.

HEFFNER: What does that mean “growth business”. What are you doing to indicate that?

ANGELSON: Well, the Institute has been rescuing scholars since its founding in 1919, starting with rescuing Russian scholars from the Bolsheviks on … from then to … under, under the direction of Ed, Ed Murrow to working to save European scholars from National Socialism and Fascism in Europe. We stopped along the way to rescue scholars in, in Hungary and from elsewhere.

But we managed to miss a few little world emergencies like the Cultural Revolution in China and some disruption in, in Southeast Asia from which we didn’t rescue scholars. And so a group of our Trustees eleven years ago, got together and said we should have a permanent fund for this purpose. So that no one ever should forget. And so Dr. Henry Jarecki, Tom Russo, George Soros and …

GOODMAN: Henry Kaufman …

ANGELSON: … of course, our, our Chairman Emeritus, Henry Kaufman … started the Scholar Rescue Fund so that we now have a formal vehicle for the rescue of scholars. We’ve … ah, over … just in, in that 11 year period, we’ve rescued more than 500 scholars … 517 scholars as, as of yesterday …

HEFFNER: What do you mean, by the way “rescued them”?

ANGELSON: Rescued them means identified them, determine that they really are scholars and that they really are threatened and find safe havens for them. Either in their region, but out side of their area of danger or elsewhere, be it in the United States or, or in, in Europe or other places around the world.

The goal is not ultimately to grant asylum to these individuals so that they can go on and live happily with their families and teach Americans. The goal is to save national academies so that we can … if you will “re-pop” these scholars or, or many of them … back in their home countries after the troubles have stopped so that there’s no lost generation on account of … on account of war. Allan is, is known for saying that education is the, is the orphan of war and we’re, we’re trying to stop that.

HEFFNER: Allan, let me ask whether it works that way? Does it work that way that you don’t bring them over here, make it possible for them to say, as Mark says, “to live happily ever after”. Do you create a brain drain?

GOODMAN: What we’re actually doing is trying to save brains and place scholars where near as possible to their home countries, so they can monitor the situation in the home country … go back when it’s safe to do so and often, some of the scholars we help … very distinguished professors, very distinguished scientists … but they don’t speak English and it wouldn’t be right to require someone 50 or 55 years of ages to be fluent in English first before they could find safety in America. So … the, the world really ought to be the haven for the scholars we rescued. And, indeed, the world is.

HEFFNER: It works out that way.

GOODMAN: It does. And, and …

HEFFNER: That you don’t create a “brain drain”.

GOODMAN: Almost every scholar, when you ask them “What would you like to do?”, their first response is “Go back”. They didn’t get rescued because they wanted to be a refugee in another country or seek asylum.

They, they wanted safety. Wars do end. Terrorists do get captured, repressive regimes do change and scholars have the hope that as that happens, they can go back and re-build higher education.

HEFFNER: Was it that way back in Murrow’s time? Because I had the impression, looking at the names of the people who came here, or maybe you were just picking major scholars whom the rest of us would recognize … that I, I saw so many names that I recognized as people who had come, escaping from Nazi Germany or from other parts of Nazi dominated Europe … and came to become known, later, as a great American scholars or international scholars.

GOODMAN: It’s a very good observation … especially the group that fled the Nazi’s are unique in our history, in a sense, because they really didn’t want to go back, and they didn’t go back. Some never visited Germany again … maybe never trusted that conditions would make it possible.

But today people do want to go back and we encourage that.

ANGELSON: We’ve taken from Iraq … more than 250 scholars and over 40% of them … and please don’t hold me precisely to the number … but more than 40% of them are now back in Iraq teaching again. One of them is the President of the leading Iraqi university these days.

So, if we look at the statistics from … the … from just the 11 years during which the Scholar Rescue Fund has been formally in existence, more than 40% of scholars overall have returned to their home country and, and that’s the point.

The point is to save the national Academy and it … we think that it’s important work on it’s own merit, but also because of the multiplier effect … because this isn’t Tom or Dick or Jane or, or Mary that, that we’re saving, these are professors, these are professors who have a wonderful multiplier effect, a profound influence … on, on the next generation and the next generation. As you know.

HEFFNER: Now you’re talking about professors, you’re talking about people in advanced institutions. Is there some reason for that? Have you not purposefully gone after teachers in … on, on … in the secondary schools in the nations you’ve been concerned with?

GOODMAN: The, the other depressing thing about our business is … we’re the only Fund in the entire world that’s focused on professors. There are funds to help labor leaders, there are funds to help poets and writers, there are funds to help students. But, for some reason, the world has never realized how serous the threat to professors are in the midst of war … civil or international … because of terrorism, because of repressive government.

So, we have limited means and it’s really important to focus those means on saving the people that we can. And they happen to be professors.

HEFFNER: Where are you focused today?

GOODMAN: The biggest emergencies we have are, as Mark mentioned … Iraq … but also Syria.

ANGELSON: Syria is the largest growth sector in this growth industry of ours. Ah … not two years, Dick, were we finally able to catch our, our breath … collective breaths for, for a second on the subject of Iraq … before we were inundated with applications from Syria.

In recent times we’ve rescued 30 Syrian professors and in connection with the Iraqi rescue, we owe a debt of gratitude to the government of the Hashemite government … Hashemite kingdom of Jordan.

Our Trustee … IIE Trustee … Princess Ghida Talal has been remarkably helpful to us in, insuring that, I would say dozens of, of Jordanian universities take in Iraqis. As, as you know Jordan and Iraq are contiguous and so they’re awfully close to home and a good number of them have gone back home.

Allan and I traveled together to Ammon in, in Jordan to see the Iraqi university in, in exile … last year? … and it was … just a remarkable experience for me. Because as it turns out Professors are, are Professors … and, and

HEFFNER: What does that mean, pray tell.

ANGELSON: Well, they, they have opinions … they, they … they’re sometime argumentative, particularly when you put a large group of them in, in a room together. It was just wonderful to see the faculty fully functional, if you will.

Also, thanks to technology, those Iraqi professors were able first … with DVD technology to record lectures and, and get them sent back into Iraq. And, and these days …those that haven’t gone back are … courtesy of what we call “live streaming” … giving … at, at … simultaneous … at the same time … lectures that are, are picked up electronically by their, by their, by their students in Iraq.

The Syrian problem is the greatest problem that we face today. We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate over the years, thanks to some very generous donors to have raised … just for the Scholar Rescue Fund some $38 million dollars in operating funds and $32 millions dollars in, in endowment, but we need a lot more in order to keep this going and we, we see a need to rescue 50 scholars a year without the Syrian emergency.

We, we’ve taken scholars from, from all over the world. We’ve processed 4,500 inquiries. We have processed a thousand full, complete applications in order to get to the 500 plus awards that we’ve, that we’ve made. Actually 750 awards including renewals … to 500 individuals from 50 countries and we’ve placed them in 40 countries at hundreds of universities. Syria … our, our biggest problem is Syria.

HEFFNER: Now, let me ask a question that perhaps you will feel is out of bounds. Allan, I indicated that your early position in government had to do with being the Presidential Liaison to the CIA. And that was back, I believe, in the Carter Administration. I can’t pin anything on you, Mark, that relates to the government … but to what extent can there be, must there be an assumption that the IIE is … to some extent, at least … an arm of American intelligence.

GOODMAN: We, we work with many governments in the world and we work with many foundations and many individuals. We have no relationship with the intelligence agencies of any government. We would not seek it. If one came out way we would reject it. The whole point of educational exchange is to build mutual understanding between people. To turn people and nations into human relationships.

And in the education space, we, we can work where government sometimes can’t. So we opened educational exchange early in China … early in Vietnam, before there were diplomatic relations. We’ll continue to do that.

HEFFNER: You said “before there were diplomatic relations”. What does that indicate?

GOODMAN: It indicates often before governments formally agreed to exchange Ambassadors and exchange embassies … it’s the people to people diplomacy that Edward R. Murrow knew so well. It’s the human relationships that he advocated so much for. It’s the educational exchange that’s going to build understanding and it will build understanding between countries now that maybe don’t speak to each other.

ANGELSON: Allan would not say, but I will … (clears his throat) that he was the first American professor to go and, and teach in China … not last week or the week before, but, but, but way back when at a certain university … or maybe I’ll … maybe I can get you to talk about that.

GOODMAN: Education space and education diplomacy are so different than the government. You can go anywhere, you can teach … people are open and so … if I both taught at the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing and later at the Foreign Ministries Institute of International Relations in Hanoi … a place I never thought I would get to see.

But people close chapter in their lives and in wars and in history. And, ahh, in, in Vietnam the first person I worked with was a woman who was the first Vietnamese to come to America after the war was over and we were beginning to talk with Vietnam. I asked her what her father did and she said he was a judge … a couple of weeks went by and I said, “Well, what kind of judge?”. Turned out he was the Chairman of the War Crimes Tribunal indicting the United States for what happened in Vietnam.

And I said, ‘How can your father countenance you going to the US … working with me … supporting this openness.” And she said he said “that chapter’s closed. It’s really up to your generation (speaking of his daughter) to write a new chapter in the US relations with Vietnam. And you ought to write it based on reality, not on what happened in the past.” And, and that’s what we find in every relationship … Vietnam, China … we’ll find it soon, I think, with Iran … some day with Cuba. It is important for people to relate to each other in the education space. And that’s what this Institute does.

HEFFNER: Reversing the perspective. Have you found the same attitude prevailing in the United States?

GOODMAN: America is the most open country in the world to educational exchange. It welcomes more than 700,000 international students every year. But the significant thing about that number is there are students from every single country studying some place in a university in the United States. Countries we don’t have diplomatic relationships with … countries with whom we have difficult relationships. But in the education space you, you build future leadership … you build future mutual understanding and you build relations that will last, in a positive way for decades to come.

HEFFNER: In what you call “the education space”.

GOODMAN: And no country is more open to this than, than the United States, and no country has more capacity to host international students than the United States …

HEFFNER: What do you mean “capacity”?

GOODMAN: … and that’s why people … well, we have 4,000 accredited colleges and universities in America … that, that’s really more than any other country in the world.

People come here because there is room in American higher education … international students are about 3% of our total enrollment. That’s a very small number. They’re distributed throughout the United States. And sometimes it’s the only way that our future generation of Americans gets to sit next to a Brazilian or a Chinese or an Indian and understands that people come from different cultures, different traditions and learn how to work together as an inter-cultural team.

So, international education benefits us abroad. And it also benefits us greatly at home.

HEFFNER: Well, I’m very much aware of the Scholar Rescue work that you do. Interestingly enough, too, I’m … I realize you administer such programs as the Fulbrights. Is that a significant part of IIE’s activities?

GOODMAN: It’s really the flagship public diplomacy program of the US Department of State and the United States government. It’s been our privilege to administer it since the program was created in 1946. So we had a time when Edward R. Murrow was working on Fulbright and a time when he was the boss of Fulbright, when he was the head of the US Information Agency. So Fulbright is, is our nation’s gift to the world and our gift to future generations.

HEFFNER: How have you two managed, over the years, to stay out of trouble at home?

GOODMAN: In the education space you have to have an open mind. You have to listen, you have to understand where people are coming from …

HEFFNER: Even those who don’t have open minds in this country?

GOODMAN: Most Americans have an open mind about education. And most Americans are very glad that international students are here, that the Fulbright program exists because they “get” what it does for mutual understanding and they “get” what it does for peace. And people would much rather have peace than war.

HEFFNER: Mark, are there many scholars lined up to apply to the Scholar Rescue Fund?

ANGELSON: We, we have more mouths to feed than we have, than we have food to feed them. And its … I mean we … one, one of our, our principles is that we should … because we can’t rescue everyone … we should rescue the best scholars … we should rescue the scholars who are likely to have the most significant multiplier effect, if you will … as, as I said earlier … if we were able to amass a larger endowment … we would be able to rescue more scholars.

HEFFNER: Are there particular scholars who stand out … Fulbright … well, not Fulbright … but Nobel prize laureates for instance?

ANGELSON: So the Institute has alumni of, of various types … Fulbrighters … Gilman scholars … we actually … we, we administer 250 such programs … the Fulbright being the most commonly known one. Among our alumni, including our rescued scholars are 68 winners of the Nobel Prize.

HEFFNER: MmmHmm.

ANGELSON: And counting. We’re, we’re … we’re very, very proud of that.

HEFFNER: And while you’re counting I have to say we have one minute left … I would like to know …. were they Nobel laureates when you identified them?

ANGELSON: No, sir, they were not.

HEFFNER: That’s quite an impressive record.

ANGELSON: I have one more thing for you with, with only 30 seconds to go … and, and that is a little story about Ed Murrow when he worked at, at IIE … he came to us at age 24 … and was, was hired by Allan’s predecessor … our, our Founder and, and first Director … Stephen Duggan.

Unfortunately Mr. Duggan had a stroke … suffered a stroke and for several months had to stop his television … sorry, his radio broadcast on international education.

Ed Murrow was asked to fill in for him. And lo and behold, sometime soon thereafter we lost him to CBS. Who knew?

HEFFNER: Great story. And gentlemen I’m so glad you came here today to share we out viewers what IIE is do, has done since the days of Stephen Duggan and Edward R. Murrow. I guess I could say for so many people … keep up the good work. Thank you for joining me today.

ANGELSON: Thank you, Dick.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

HEFFNER: And thanks, too, to you in the audience, I hope you join us again next time. Meanwhile, as another old friend used to say … “Good night and good luck”.

And do visit the Open Mind Website at thirteen.org/openmind to reprise this program online right now or to draw upon our Archive of 1,500 or so other Open Mind and related programs. That’s thirteen.org/openmind.

  • abed alkreem alsalem

    I am a pharmacist from Syria of Raqqa graduated from the University of Aleppo in 2007 and I have been living under difficult conditions in Syria, and I would I leave the country, especially after he received among Islamist extremists city of Raqqa, life became difficult

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