The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 29th, 2014
From an early age, Leon Botstein’s life was shaped by two powerful
forces: fascism and education. His parents fled Nazi persecution in
Poland and, after World War II, settled in the United States. Mr.
Botstein’s mother and father eventually joined the faculty of Albert
Einstein College of Medicine, in New York, leaving an indelible
impression on their young son. "My family owes everything to the
dynamism of American universities," he says.
Today, Mr. Botstein is president of Bard College, and his past has
influenced the liberal-arts institution’s singular approach to
Mr. Botstein is quick to say that the college’s overseas projects are
very much an institutional effort. But under his leadership, Bard,
whose bucolic campus hugs the Hudson River some 90 miles north of New
York City, has championed liberal education in countries in the midst of
societal shifts, like post-apartheid South Africa. In parts of the
world that make headlines for their strife and volatility, such as
Russia and the Palestinian West Bank, Bard has helped found new colleges
and programs rooted in the liberal arts.