DRCLAS: Two New Chairs
The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies recently received two gifts to create new chairs at Harvard University.
The Rockefeller Harvard Professorship for the Study of Latin America
David Rockefeller, philanthropist and member of the advisory committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, has created the “Neil L. Rudenstine Professorship for the Study of Latin America” with a gift of $3.5 million. The chair, which can be used in any of Harvard University’s nine faculties, will be named “the Rockefeller Professorship for the Study of Latin America” until Rudenstine completes his tenure as President of Harvard University.
“David Rockefeller’s vision, generosity, and constant personal involvement have led to the creation-and the flowering-of our Center for Latin American Studies, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this spring,” said Rudenstine. “It has been more than a privilege for me to be able to be able to work with him, and to come to know him during the past several years. And it is a special honor for me to be associated with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies through the endowed chair that David has created.”
In a phone interview, Rockefeller reminisced about how Rudenstine approached him on the creation of the Latin American center after he became president of Harvard. In his previous position at the Mellon Foundation, Rudenstine had become very active in another Rockefeller initiative, the Americas Society – Council of the Americas. Rudenstine’s proposal led Rockefeller to pledge $11 million in 1994 for the creation of what became Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, named, he noted, “without my knowledge and a very generous thing to do.” Part of that initial pledge went for the creation of Harvard’s first university-wide chair in Latin American Studies, also named for Rockefeller.
Rockefeller said that when he determined to add a new pledge to his initial gift, he decided to honor Rudenstine with a second chair in Latin American studies.
“Neil’s commitment to Latin America is indisputable,” observed Rockefeller. “We’d been partners in creating the Center. I thought it would be important to have two university-wide professorships in the Latin American area. Since one was bearing my name, it would be nice to have it named for the other person who was in a very real sense the founder of it, namely Neil.”
The admiration is obviously mutual. Rudenstine says of Rockefeller, “What David has done for the Center represents only a modest fraction of all he has done for Harvard during the past half century-quite apart from all that he has contributed nationally and internationally. He is a wonderful friend; a person who leads by his combination of commitment, astuteness, knowledge, and modesty; and a benefactor who gives of himself as generously as he gives of his resources.”
John Coatsworth, Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Studies and Director of the David Rockefeller Center of Latin American Studies, said, “This is a splendid new gift that links the two spirits who together have put Latin America on Harvard’s map. It is also wonderful tribute to the faculty, students, and staff who have made the David Rockefeller Center such a lively and successful addition to Harvard’s international studies community.”
The new chair will support the appointment of a “distinguished scholar of international stature whose work has contributed significantly to the knowledge of the business, economic, social, political, environmental, or historical development of Latin America, to the understanding of Latin America’s artistic and cultural achievements, or to the study of Latin America’s relations with the rest of the world.” The Rockefeller Harvard Professor may be appointed in any Faculty of the University at the discretion of the president in consultation with the appropriate deans and the director of the David Rockefeller Center.
“I think it’s fair to say that the Center has clearly made it known throughout Latin America that Harvard now at long last has taken the lead in recognizing that close relations with Latin America are important for them and for us,” observed Rockefeller. “We’ve done that previously with China, with Japan, Europe, the Middle East and so on with Centers, but it has never been done before in Latin America.”
Monique and Philip Lehner Professorship for the Study of Latin America in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Philip Lehner, chairman and chief executive officer of Leigh Fibers, Inc., and his wife Monique, have made a gift of $3.5 million to Harvard University to create a professorship for the study of Latin America in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Under the terms of agreement with the Lehners, the Monique and Philip Lehner Professorship for the Study of Latin America “will support a distinguished scholar of international stature whose work has contributed significantly to the economic, social, political, environmental, or historical development of Latin America, to the understanding of Latin America’s artistic and cultural achievements or to the study of Latin America’s relationship to the rest of the world.”
The gift creates the fourth new chair in Latin American Studies established at the University since the inauguration of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies in 1994. The Lehner’s gift is the first such chair created in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The other three can be assigned by the president either to the FAS or to another faculty.
“The wonderful gift of the Lehners will contribute enormously to strengthening Latin American Studies at Harvard,” said Jeremy Knowles, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Through their generosity, we shall be able to bring to Harvard a professor whose teaching and scholarship is focussed on this region of the world.”
Philip Lehner, who is also a member of the Advisory Committee of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, said in a phone interview, “For nearly 40 years, Monique and I have been interested in Latin America, particularly Central America. It is where we have many close friends and various business activities. We have always been concerned about the numerous issues facing these countries in their efforts to improve their economies and have wondered about the appropriateness of the economic and political advice they have received.”
Lehner, who graduated Harvard College in 1946, heads the firm founded by his father in 1921, which processes, imports, exports, and markets textile fiber wastes and industrial cleaning compounds. Philip and Monique, who graduated from Smith College in 1952, have four children and a dozen grandchildren.
“When David Rockefeller founded the Latin American Center in 1994, he created an opportunity for us to support Harvard and our interests in the region. We hope this professorship may help to bring to light answers and solutions that will benefit the people and bring improvements to the area. Fred Glimp and John Coatsworth have been very helpful in structuring the professorship. We thank them very much,” he concluded.
The Lehner Professorship will be allocated to a department in the Faculty of Arts and sciences by the Dean in consultation with the appropriate Department Chairs and the Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
“This splendid gift from Monique and Phil Lehner will make a huge difference for the David Rockefeller Center and for Latin American studies in the FAS and throughout the University,” said John Coatsworth, Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs and director of the Center. “Phil has supported and participated in many of the Center’s activities, especially those related to Central America, ever since the Center was founded. He and Monique are wonderfully generous and gracious people. The Center is fortunate, indeed, to have such friends.”
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