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Universities, UNAM



     Failure is part of man's fate. I have just watched a rerun of President Nixon's farewell speech to the White House staff. It was deeply moving, and my belief is strengthened that he has been maligned and humiliated. That goes for other public figures, including university presidents. They never know where trouble will come from, any more than Nixon suspected what the plumbers would do. Stanford's President Donald Kennedy could not guess that his troubles would begin with a yacht, of whose existence he was unaware. His successor, Gerhard Casper, cultivated students, faculty and alumni assiduously, never guessing that his presidency would end in the abject failure of the uniting of Stanford's hospitals with those of the University of California at San Francisco, a failure which sparked nasty recriminations against him.
     The student strike at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) has almost wrecked the university. The strike was clearly engineered by Cuautémoc Cárdenas, governor of the Federal District, to discredit the official PRI party, which he had left. The victim of student violence was university president Francisco Barnés, a thoroughly decent person. He resigned.
     The University Council unanimously elected as his successor Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Secretary of Public Health in the cabinet of President Zedillo, a post from which he will now resign. His selection means that he is a party stalwart; Zedillo and the PRI are quietly but clearly indicating that they will not give in the Cárdenas's blackmail. We shall see if he succeeds in saving the university.
     Born in 1951, he studied medicine at UNAM, and then went to the Mayo Clinic to do research in psychiatry. In his new job, the students will provide him with many case studies. He may want to offer them treatment. In a piece I wrote marking the fortieth anniversary of Stanford´s School of Humanities and Sciences, I wondered why none of the three psychologists who served as dean was a specialist in abnormal psychology. Stanford must now select a new president. I shall have some recommendations.

Ronald Hilton - 11/18/99


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