Room at the Top

“I tell my students, ‘If you find yourself in the company of people who agree with you, you’re in the wrong company.’”

—Condoleezza Rice, 1993

BY the spring of 1991, when German unification was complete, Condi had proven herself to Scowcroft and he asked her to continue in her post. The Gulf War ended on March 1, closing another chapter in the Bush administration, and Condi decided it was time to leave Washington and return to academic life. She didn’t want to reach burnout in what she called an “all-consuming” job, and according to Scowcroft, she was listening to her biological clock. At thirty-six, she wanted to settle down and have a family. Condi did not confirm this explanation, but said rather that her teaching career took precedence over everything. “It wasn’t an easy decision,” she said. “I felt that it’s hard to keep an academic career intact if you don’t come back in about two years.” She recognized the importance of her senior-level job with the National Security Council, but she felt she needed to put academics and public service in balance. “We’re fortunate in the U.S. that we can go in and out,” she said. “But I think of myself as an academic first. That means that you want to keep some coherence and integrity in your career.” The fact that she had not been available to her upper-level students for two years ground away at her conscience. “I tried to keep up with my graduate students but it was hard,” she said. “You can’t be away from that for too long.”

The prospect of staying on at the NSC for another two years conjured up images of seemingly endless fourteen-hour days and no time for the small, normal things that make up a balanced lifestyle. “I wanted a life,” she said. She felt she had been extremely fortunate in being in the NSC during one of the most amazing, transforming periods in European political history, and it was time to return to the pleasures and routines of teaching, doing research, playing the piano, and going to the grocery store. She had worked hard to achieve her academic status and didn’t think it was necessary to risk it all for one job, no matter how prestigious. “When the time came and I was asked to stay,” she said, “I thought if I stayed, I should stay to the end of the term and I didn’t think I was prepared to do that. I was getting tired—it is a very demanding job. The real stress of White House jobs is that it’s a really small staff—forty people in the whole NSC staff. It’s a burn-out job.”

Condi moved out of Watergate and returned to the West Coast, eager to leap into academia and share her experiences with her students. Her recent experience gave her much more to offer, especially regarding the “story behind the story” element of world events. In her classes she had always stressed the importance of the personal element in international relations—the attitudes and emotions and relationships that underlie the bigger story—and now she could bring some of that information to her classes through first-hand experience. “I’ve always tried to teach some of the decision-making aspects of politics,” she said upon her return to Stanford. “I think I have a better sense for that now. It’s important to understand what people were really thinking . . . I think I can bring some perspective on what it was like to go through those events from that vantage point.”

When she left Washington in March 1991, Condi had no idea that the events in the Soviet Union would proceed so quickly. In her first weeks back at Stanford she said, “The events in the Soviet Union will unfold over a period of time. It was not likely that by being in Washington I would have been able to see the Soviet Union’s problems through this period.” Like everyone else, she was surprised when the entire system fell apart before the end of the year. In a public speech in December, she expressed the magnitude of change that had swept the world since she was a political science neophyte at the University of Denver. “All the assumptions that I started out with as a student of international studies have simply been blown away,” she said. “The old assumption—that Europe was permanently divided, that the East-West conflict was a permanent fixture of the international system, that Soviet forces would remain deep in Eastern Europe . . . no longer hold. A great power—the USSR—has collapsed.”

Once she got resettled, Condi delved back into publishing and wrote an article that appeared in Time magazine in September 1991. Four weeks earlier a group of Communist hard-liners had staged a coup in Moscow, trying to oust Gorbachev who was about to sign an agreement giving the republics more freedom. But enormous public opposition coupled with the reluctance of the armed forces to support the coup caused the hard-liners to back down. Condi’s article, “A New Army for a New State,” discussed the military’s role in the coup and Gorbachev’s arsenal as the leader of a new, non-Communist nation. “The Soviet Army still has as chance to find a place in a stable and democratic successor the communist Soviet Union,” she wrote. “If that is to happen, personnel changes are not enough. A stable democracy needs sturdy institutions, not just charismatic personalities.”

She reached another national audience three months later with her second appearance at the Commonwealth Club, where she gave a speech entitled “End of the Cold War: Challenge for U.S. Policy.” Like her previous speech for the Club, this one was broadcast live over the radio and was part of the Friday Luncheon Program. In this speech, given at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on December 13, 1991, Condi discussed the formidable challenges facing the former Soviet Union, from its struggle to initiate a market economy to its political instability. She shared insider perceptions gleaned from her two years in the Bush administration, including a vivid portrayal of Gorbachev’s reputation among his people. One question from the floor after her speech asked her to explain the difference between the world’s view of Gorbachev as the great redeemer who brought down Communism and that of the Soviet people, who blamed him for making things worse. She responded:

People in the Soviet Union associate Gorbachev with the domestic disintegration of the country. If they’re now standing in lines three or four times longer than they used to, then it’s because of Gorbachev. What is missing in that analysis is that it was the years of stagnation under Brezhnev that led to these problems. Gorbachev didn’t understand the economic problems very well when he came to power. He sort of messed around at the edges, trying to squeeze productivity, and then one day just realized that the whole system was rotten. He tried to break it up, but didn’t have the courage to leap into a market system and therefore probably worsened the transition. His lack of popularity comes from the association of perestroika with the disintegration of the Soviet economy. Yet if you probe, Russians will say that they understand that he was the father of something important. They blame him simply in the manner of: what’s he done for us lately?

In her first eight years at Stanford, Condi wrote fifteen articles that appeared either in journals or in foreign policy/Soviet history book compilations. In the six years following her return from Washington, she published five more articles and co-wrote her third book, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft.

She also resumed public service work, including a stint on the governor’s advisory panel of redistricting California in 1991. She was well acquainted with newly elected Republican Governor Pete Wilson who, after his election in 1990, had put Condi on his short list of appointees for the U.S. Senate seat that he would be vacating that year. Deep into her Washington job at the time, Condi told him she wasn’t interested and later told the press that she didn’t think she would have received the appointment anyway. Wilson appointed California State Senator John Seymour to the Senate seat. As part of Wilson’s advisory panel in 1991, Condi contributed ideas for redrawing the state’s assembly, state senate, and Congressional district boundaries.

Another government service appointment took Condi away on short trips over a period of several weeks but kept her involved in military policy. In 1997, she was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender Integrated Training in the Military, a committee set up by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen. The 11-member civilian group, which included one retired admiral and three retired generals, met with hundreds of military personnel in an effort to “assess the current training programs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and to determine how best to train our gender-integrated, all-volunteer force to ensure that they are disciplined, effective and ready.” The committee delivered a long list of recommendations included improving the training of drill sergeants, revamping recruiting policies, toughening basic training, expanding sexual harassment instruction, providing separate barracks for men and women, and hiring more women trainers.

Utilizing her background in military systems was gratifying, but Condi’s pet project was the Center for a New Generation, an after-school enrichment program she cofounded for children of the impoverished Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto. The idea came out of a dinner table conversation Condi had with her father, who had moved to California after Angelena’s death and his retirement from the University of Denver in 1982, and his new wife, Clara Bailey Rice. “I was a principal at Menlo Oaks Middle School,” said Clara, “and Condi had come to speak for my middle school’s ‘graduation’ ceremony. They were about to enter high school and they organized a little program. I asked Condi to speak for their graduation services, and she was impressed with how they carried the whole service by themselves and did such a beautiful job with so few resources. She asked me what sort of support the district had for these kids to be successful.”

John was doing some consulting at Stanford and volunteering in Clara’s school district. Like Condi, he was concerned about the students at Menlo Oaks school. He was working at improving the quality of East Palo Alto education as well as its environment. “He really didn’t like the way the grounds looked or the areas where the kids played,” said Clara, “so he got people to go over and redo the lawns and playing fields.” Clara, seventeen years his junior, met John through his volunteer work in the schools and they soon learned they had many common friends back in Birmingham. Before becoming a principal, Clara had been a middle school science and math teacher. They were married in July 1989.

Although John was retired, he did not slow down very much in California. His public service work included an appointment to the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges, made by Governor Pete Wilson. His long academic career had been honored in 1995 when he received the National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Living Legend Award. That year he also received an honorary doctorate from Daniel Hale University in Chicago, which prompted some friends and family to begin calling him Dr. Rice.

Condi learned that the Ravenswood School District had a well-funded program for below-average readers, but nothing beyond that to help students qualify for college. No students from the school district had ever gone to Stanford, which was only five minutes away. That seemed to clinch it. “The three of us—John, Condi and I—came up with the idea for an after-school center at the dinner table one night,” said Clara.

The Center for a New Generation, held at Clara’s school, was open to children in the third through eighth grades with good potential who had at least a C+ average and were recommended by their teachers. At the Center, they received first-time exposure to foreign languages, computer training, and tutoring in math and science—given by Stanford students whom John Rice enlisted for the job. “He was retired,” said Clara, “and he put all kinds of energy into the Center, so it would have the resources it needed.” John organized a band as part of the musical arts program and found funding for instruments and uniforms. He also arranged a bus schedule with the school district for transportation to and from the Center and found vendors to donate food and snacks.

Condi officially cofounded the Center with Susan Ford, a well-known philanthropist active in the business and medical community and director of the Sand Hill Foundation. The program enrolled from 100 to 120 students during the school year and about 150 during the summer. They established a formal relationship with Stanford, which contributed student volunteers as well as education professionals who helped form the curriculum. John organized a group of school counselors to follow up with the students once they entered high school and make sure they had the support and encouragement they needed to graduate.

John had taught Condi how effective this type of program could be through his own youth fellowship back in Birmingham. The Center for a New Generation was enormously successful, and within a few years, two of its graduates were accepted at Stanford, and more went to other colleges and universities. In 1996, when Condi’s duties at Stanford prevented her from spending as much time at the Center as she felt it deserved, she met with the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula to talk about a merger. The administration agreed to adopt the Center and took control of its operation. To keep a hand in the program, Condi became a vice president of the Boys & Girls Club. In 1998, Condi and Susan Ford were honored by the organization for their “extraordinary support of children and youth” at a Leading Citizens Dinner. Condi’s father gave the invocation that evening, and the band from the Center for a New Generation played for the guests.

The kids at the Center became Condi’s extended family and her work there was extremely important to her. She once told her father, “Those are sort of my kids, all 125 of them.” Giving children in disadvantaged circumstances a few breaks became Condi’s cause. “Ever since I’ve been out of school,” she said, “most of my efforts outside work have dealt with trying to give kids an opportunity.” Her aunt Connie Ray said that Condi’s devotion stems from her philosophy of life. “Condoleezza has always felt that to be a complete person you had to be devoted to a cause,” she said.

Condi’s work with children in East Palo Alto has led some to call her a role model for minority children, and although she doesn’t mind that recognition, she hopes that kids will disregard race and gender and simply look at the work their models do. “I have never accepted this notion that you have to see somebody who looks like you doing it to make it possible,” she said. At the 2000 Republican National Convention, the “Profiles in Compassion” video series included a film about the Center for a New Generation.

Another California group that identified Condi as a role model was that state’s Women Legislator’s Caucus. In 1992, they named Condi “Woman of the Year,” recognizing her work in the Bush administration and the national status she had achieved. “Dr. Rice has participated in the making of history,” said State Senator Becky Morgan, who named her that year’s recipient of the award. “Condoleezza exemplifies everything that a woman can be: intelligent, articulate, capable and highly respected. She is an excellent role model for younger women.”

Condi’s clout as a Washington veteran gave her more visibility in the media, new stature in the Republican Party, and entrée into some of the nation’s top foreign policy organizations. In 1991, for example, her television appearances as a consultant on Soviet affairs for ABC News offered a hint of the media star she would become. In 1992, she gave an address at the Republican National Convention in Houston, where President George Bush was nominated for re-election, and shared the stage with Pat Buchanan and leaders who introduced the new Party agenda as the “Contract for America.”

Her foreign policy affiliations expanded to membership in the Lincoln Club of North California, the American Political Science Association, and the Aspen Institute, where she participated in the Aspen Strategy Group from 1991 to 1995. Aspen conducts nonpartisan policy programs for public- and private-sector leaders, and the Aspen Strategy Group focuses specifically on “the role of the U.S. in the post-cold war world, the U.S.-Russian relationship, and the Strategic Defense Initiative.” Her former boss at the White House, Brent Scowcroft, has been co-chairman of the Aspen Strategy Group since 1984.

At Stanford, she jumped back into administrative duties by serving on search committees for the Stanford football coach, dean of admissions, and president of the university, all in 1991. The following year, she joined the Provost’s Committee on the Status of Women in the University and the University Policy and Planning Board.

A major development in Condi’s life—the result of her White House service and new Republican contacts—was her launch onto several corporate boards. Directors are chosen on the basis of their expertise and also because they are identified as professionals who will have a positive reflection on the company and will act harmoniously with the rest of the board.

Those who leave posts in government are attracted to corporate boards as a way of staying connected to the national scene and utilizing their Washington connections. Like the majority of women on corporate boards, Condi came to Chevron, TransAmerica, Hewlett Packard, and other companies with a background very different from that of the white males who served as directors. Albert A. Cannella, Jr., Associate Professor of Management at Texas A&M University’s College of Business, has analyzed the difference between the routes women and minorities take to become members of corporate boards and the routes taken by white men. The white-male path has traditionally been a series of advancements from within the company, while the glass ceiling prevents the same for women executives. “White men prove themselves in the industry and get promoted,” he explained, “but women and minorities don’t tend to get promoted. Rather, the prominent routes for them are law, government service, and academics—having a Ph.D.” With a background in both the White House and academia, Condi had the perfect resume for obtaining directorships and maintaining the high-profile contacts she made in Washington. “She’s very well connected,” said Dr. Cannella. “She knows a lot of people in government, and that’s something a corporation is always looking for. In particular, those with a background in government service are in demand on boards of industries where there is a lot of government regulation and oversight.”

In his published study about the differing routes men and women take to become corporate directors, Dr. Cannella explained that corporations seek out board members from outside the company who are “business experts, support specialists, and community influentials.” Condi fits into the third category, people who provide the board with “non-business perspectives on issues, problems, and ideas, as well as expertise about and influence with powerful groups in the community.” These members are often politicians, academics, clergy, or other social leaders. While the first category, business experts, is made up primarily of white males who have worked their way up the business ladder, the other two categories include more women and minorities who came via the academic or political-experience route. Of those, a large number hold doctoral degrees—56 percent of the black women in the study held Ph.D.s as opposed to only 19 percent of white male directors. (Chevron’s current CEO, David J. O’Reilly, holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, for example.)

Another pattern observed in Cannella’s study is the fact that women and racial minorities tend to sit on several boards at once, unlike the white male majority who serve on fewer at one time. This is true of both Condoleezza and her fellow Chevron board member, Carla Hills. Like Condi, Carla came to the board with a background in government service, having served in the senior Bush administration as U.S. trade representative (while Condi was serving on the National Security Council). During the Ford administration, she was secretary of housing and urban development, and prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in Los Angeles.

Condi joined the Board of Directors of Chevron Corporation, a multinational with oil operations in twenty-five countries, immediately upon returning to Stanford in 1991. Her expertise on the states that made up the former Soviet Union made her a valuable asset for Chevron’s oil interests in Kazakhstan. She worked extensively on those deals, including their plan to help build a pipeline from the Tengiz oil field across southern Russia to a Russian port on the Black Sea.

Like her Hoover Institution colleague, George Shultz, who served as a director of Chevron before she arrived at the company, Condi supplemented her Stanford income with fees from Chevron that included a $35,000-per-year retainer and $1,500 for each board and committee meeting attended. By her tenth year with the company, she held over 3,000 shares of Chevron stock worth $241,000. Also like Shultz, she had a supertanker named after her—the 136,000-deadweight-ton SS Condoleezza Rice.

Condi’s work on Chevron’s oil projects in Kazakhstan formed part of one of the United State’s largest overseas energy investments. Construction on the 935-mile Kazakhstan pipeline, a group effort by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), began in 1999 and the first barrels of oil from the Tengiz oil field flowed into a waiting tanker at the Russian port of Novorossiysk in November 2001. According to a White House press release that month, the CPC “is the largest, single United States investment in Russia,” and American oil companies, primarily Chevron and Exxon, paid for approximately half of the pipeline’s $2.6 billion price tag.

Condi’s decade-long affiliation with Chevron would raise flags when she joined the George W. Bush administration. Not only did the oil company’s holdings in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa pose conflict-of-interest issues, Chevron was the subject of a lawsuit involving human rights abuses in Nigeria. The corporation was charged with aiding Nigeria’s military police in crushing public demonstrations against the exploitation of the nation’s delta region, where most of the oil reserves are found.

Condi served on and chaired Chevron’s public policy committee, which was responsible for identifying social, political, and environmental issues that concerned the corporation at home and abroad. When Condi’s affiliation with Chevron came up during the presidential campaign of 2000, one television news show asked her about George W.’s relationship with “big oil” and how that would affect his administration. “American oil companies are important to our security,” she answered, “in that they give us the ability to explore abroad. They give us the ability to explore here in the United States and to protect the energy security of the United States.”

The issue of Chevron quelling protests by environmental activists in Africa did not come up in the broadcast, but Condi praised Chevron’s environmental policies in the United States. “Oil companies have come a long way in their environmental policies,” she said, “actually going so far as to fund environmental projects around the country. They are good citizens. We can’t live without oil. And we have to have American oil companies doing it. I’m proud of my association with Chevron . . . and I think we should be very proud of the job that American oil companies are doing in exploration abroad, in exploration at home, and in making certain that we have a safe energy supply.”

Condi resigned from the Chevron board on January 15, 2001, after being named Bush’s national security advisor. Three months later, in the midst of California’s energy crisis, Chevron renamed the tanker that bore her name. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, the ship was “one of the most visible reminders of the Bush administration’s ties to big oil” and “the White House had faced questions over the appropriateness of the tanker’s name.” Chevron did not comment on whether or not the White House requested the name change, but a company spokesman, Fred Gorell, said, “We made the change to eliminate the unnecessary attention caused by the vessel’s original name.” The ship is now called Altair Voyager.

Condi’s background at Chevron put her in the company of many government officials—women as well as men—criticized for having alliances with corporations that may create conflicts of interest or harbor controversial business practices. When Hillary Clinton was running for Senate, for example, stories emerged about her history with Wal-Mart, Arkansas’s largest corporation. As first lady of Arkansas, she served on the company’s board of directors, and the press pointed out that Wal-Mart’s non-union employment policy contrasted with Hillary’s support of the Teamsters and other unions during her campaign and that their “Buy American” slogan smacked of irony, as Wal-Mart imports more foreign goods than any other company in the United States.

Chevron was the first of several corporate boards Condi joined in the 1990s. In 1991, she became a director at TransAmerica, the insurance giant based in San Francisco housed in the famous pyramid-shaped skyscraper that bears its name. (In May 2002, as national security advisor, Condi would list the TransAmerica Building as a possible terrorist target along with the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.) Concurrent with her work at Chevron, she served on TransAmerica’s board of directors for ten years. TransAmerica was the sixth largest life insurance company in the United States and also offered financial and real estate services. In 1999, when Condi left the board, TransAmerica was bought by the Dutch company Aegon N.V. She stayed in the financial services world, however, by joining the Charles Schwab Corporation’s board of directors that same year. Once again, she came to the business on the heels of George Shultz, who had joined the brokerage house two years previously. She and Shultz both served on the compensation and customer quality assurance committees at Schwab.

In 1995, Condi joined another financial company, J. P. Morgan, the 140-year-old investment banking institution whose clients included 30 million individuals as well as corporations, institutions, and governments. She became a member of the International Advisory Council, a group of business and government leaders—chaired by Shultz—that met every eight months to advise the corporation. This post introduced her to many international figures, from a senior Singapore government official to a former Saudi finance minister and chief executives of corporations from South Africa, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

The Hewlett-Packard Corporation, headquartered next door to Stanford in Palo Alto and founded by two Stanford engineering graduates, was part of the Silicon Valley explosion of new technology. Condi joined the Board of Directors in 1991 and served for two years, becoming an insider in this very Stanford-friendly corporation.

In addition to corporate boards, Condi obtained director positions in large foundations and research policy research groups. From 1994 to 1997, she was a trustee at the Carnegie Corporation, one of the country’s oldest philanthropic organizations that focuses on education and international security among other areas. During her term at Carnegie, she served on an advisory council for its Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, joining a list of world leaders including Jimmy Carter, Robert S. McNamara, Desmond Tutu, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Commission itself consisted of sixteen members whose tasks included studying methods for obtaining full disclosure of nuclear weapons. Their report, “Comprehensive Disclosure of Fissionable Materials: A Suggested Initiative,” was released in 1995. As a member of the advisory council, Condi offered her expertise on the nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former Soviet Union.

This was not her first experience with the Carnegie organization. In 1988 and 1989, she had served on the board of trustees at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the research organization that describes itself as “the oldest international affairs think tank in the country.” The Endowment studies “relations among governments, business, international organizations and civil society,” and, through its Carnegie Moscow Center, focuses on relations between Russia and the United States.

From 1992 to 1997, Condi served on the Board of Directors of the RAND Corporation, the research association where she had served as a summer intern as a college student. The first organization in the country to be called a “think tank,” RAND has expanded its original focus on military technology to include education, health care, international economics, and other issues. Brent Scowcroft was also on the board at RAND during Condi’s term.

In 1997, she joined the board of directors of the Hewlett Foundation, a separate entity from the Hewlett-Packard Corporation she had worked for previously. The foundation gives $120 million in grants to organizations that, according to its mission, “make positive contributions to society.” As a member of the board, Condi helped set the budget, made investment decisions, and reviewed the work of many of the institutions receiving financial support from the foundation. Another task of the board during her term was selecting a president, and Paul Brest was the candidate chosen by the selection committee. As both the dean of the Stanford Law School and the president of the Hewlett Foundation, Paul Brest became one of Condi’s close friends and colleagues. “Condi’s greatest expertise was on the international side of the foundation,” said Paul. “She was particularly interested and helpful to the foundation in those areas, but like other directors she had to deal with all the issues. The board meets four times a year.”

At the National Endowment for the Humanities, the federal agency that provides grants to cultural institutions and scholars, Condi served on the Board of Trustees from 1991 to 1993. She also became part of San Francisco’s cultural leadership as a member of the San Francisco Symphony’s Board of Governors.

Starting in 1994, Condi returned to Notre Dame three times a year to serve on the Board of Trustees, the primary administrative arm of the university. She was elected to the fifty-three-person board after having served on the advisory council for the university’s College of Arts and Letters. A survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education published in 2000 found that Notre Dame had more black trustees than any major university in its study, with seven black members, including Condi, on the board. In 1995, the university recognized her prominence as an educator by giving her an honorary doctorate and inviting her to give the commencement address to that year’s graduating class. Two years later, she was honored by Notre Dame once again, named a National Exemplar of service to education in America. This recognition was given during a major fund-raising campaign in which the university produced a film, Generations: A Celebration of Notre Dame, that was broadcast to alumni groups throughout the country. The film highlighted four Notre Dame graduates who had contributed to education, the church, and society.

In addition to the honorary doctorate from Notre Dame, Condi was named an honorary doctor of laws at Morehouse College in 1991 and a doctor of humane letters at the University of Alabama in 1994. Morehouse, founded in Atlanta two years after the Civil War, is the nation’s oldest black, all-male college with alumni including Martin Luther King, Jr., Olympic track champion Edwin Moses, film director Spike Lee, and actor Samuel L. Jackson. Recognition from the University of Alabama must have served as a personal measure of how far the nation had come, for the university was segregated when John and Angelena Rice wanted to pursue graduate work in the early 1960s.

Condi’s prominence in academia was further recognized in the spring of 1997 when she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This honor is given to those who have made “distinguished contributions to science, scholarship, public affairs and the arts,” and she was among eleven professors named to the Academy that year. The following year she was named one of forty Young Leaders of American Academia by Change magazine, the journal of the American Association for Higher Education. At Stanford, she re-entered the Hoover Institution with a three-year research fellowship that supported new research projects while she continued teaching classes in political science.

From the boardrooms of multinational corporations and policy centers to the academic lecture circuit, Condi grew in stature in the business, academic, and cultural worlds upon her return from the Bush Senior White House. She was promoted to full professor at Stanford in May 1993 at age thirty-eight. Unknown to her, a committee was meeting at the same time to discuss an important new opening at the university, one of the top jobs that traditionally led to the presidency at any number of major universities.

One month after her upgrade to full professor she received a call from Gerhard Casper, president of Stanford. Over the years they had talked frequently about the development of the university and shared a common interest in the political science department, as Gerhard’s career included two years as an assistant professor of political science before becoming dean of the University of Chicago Law School. They had met the previous year when Condi traveled to Chicago with the presidential search committee to meet him as a candidate for the position. At that time he was provost of the University of Chicago, the second most powerful position at the institution. As provost, he was the principal budget and academic officer, reporting directly to the president. At that first meeting, Gerhard found Condi to be one of the most exceptional academics he had ever met. “I was greatly impressed by her academic values, her intellectual range, her eloquence,” he recalled.

That June day in 1993, just over a year after they first met, Condi had no reason to think Gerhard’s invitation to meet him in his office was anything more than another chance to talk about a committee decision or some other administrative matter. The meeting turned out to be anything but routine, however.

“I did not beat around the bush,” said Gerhard. “I said to her, ‘Condi, I want you to be the next provost.’ And there was really silence. You know, Condi is not someone who’s easily stunned by anything, but there was absolute silence on the other side of the table.”

It was a lot to take in. As provost, she would be the first black person, first woman, and youngest individual ever to hold the job. At thirty-eight, she was more than twenty years younger than all of her predecessors had been when they took the office, and she would go into the number-two power spot, leapfrogging the usual positions of chair and subsequently dean of a department. Without previous experience in managing a department’s finances she would be responsible for the university’s entire $1.5 billion annual budget. She would also be the chief academic officer, making policy decisions that affected the 1,400-person faculty. But Gerhard was convinced she would perform well in the job. “I knew it would be somewhat controversial because universities have a strong civil service expectation,” he said. “If you are to be provost, you should have been dean, you should at least have been a department chair . . . but I was absolutely convinced that she was competent.”

Casper also remarked that most of the controversy that followed the announcement revolved not around Condi’s race, gender, or lack of experience, but over the fact “that Condi was a Republican and most American universities are primarily made up of Democrats.” Some members of the faculty and student body were concerned that Condi’s conservative political views would sway the decision-making levels of the university toward the right, but Condi responded to those concerns by stating that her politics would not come into play in her job.

Condi entered the job at a difficult time as Stanford, like other universities, was facing budget cuts in the slowing economy. In addition to the recession, they also had enormous repair costs from the earthquake that rocked the Bay area in October 1989 and caused damage to 200 buildings. The repair bill reached $200 million. When Condi became provost, the university’s deficit stood at $20 million. “Stanford—like all universities—is in a maelstrom of change,” she said after accepting the position as provost. “Just as I was fortunate to be given a chance to help shape America’s response to the extraordinary events that ended the Cold War, I am honored that President Casper has placed faith in my judgment and ability to meet Stanford’s challenges.” She also described the source of her commitment—a deep admiration for the university that had grown stronger over the years. “When I decided to return to the university two years ago, I did so with even greater commitment to, and appreciation of, the freedom of thought, exploration and expression that the academy allows,” she said. “There is no other environment that can match the energy of a place like this.”

With her new appointment, Condi changed her plans for the summer. She had scheduled a four-week trip to the oil fields in Kazhakstan, where she would do research for a book, as she told The New York Times. As a Chevron director working on a deal in that country, however, her academic and corporate schedules were clearly going to overlap. She cancelled the trip and crammed on the university budgeting process instead. She had never faced a billion-dollar budget, and reducing the deficit would surely entail firings and cutbacks that would make her unpopular on many levels of the university. But winning a popularity contest had never been on her itinerary, and she knew that conflict would be an unpleasant yet necessary part of getting the university’s finances on track. She wasn’t afraid of the problems that would undoubtedly arise should she have to trim departments and initiate staff layoffs. “I tell my students, ‘If you find yourself in the company of people who agree with you, you’re in the wrong company,’” she said.

To some people at the university, erasing the budget deficit was a pipe dream that could not be accomplished. But Condi spent the next few months constructing a strategy that she outlined in a memo to deans and administrators in November 1993. The plan called for reductions in department budgets and student services, possible layoffs and the consolidation of support staffs. In an interview with the campus paper, she assured students that the university was not reeling from a crisis but working productively toward solutions like the rest of the nation. “I actually don’t think of this as a budgetary crisis,” she said. “This is just managing in the ’90s. Every American institution out there is going through the same questions.”

“There was a sort of conventional wisdom that said it couldn’t be done . . . that [the deficit] was structural, that we just had to live with it,” said Condi’s fellow professor, Coit Blacker. “She said, ‘No, we’re going to balance the budget in two years.’ It involved painful decisions but it worked, and communicated to funders that Stanford could balance its own books and had the effect of generating additional sources of income for the university.” Many of those painful decisions involved firing people, a process that Condi dreaded but that she considered absolutely necessary to turn the budget around. “I always feel bad for the dislocation it causes in people’s lives,” she said. “When I had to lay people off, I eased the transition for them in any way I could. But sometimes you have to make difficult decisions, and you have to make them stick.”

Her job was not easy, and often not pleasant. “In the first couple of years, there was very little to which I could say yes,” she said. “Also, we had to restructure the administrative units of a lot of departments. That was hard, laying off people. That’s not fun.” But she felt that making clear decisions and staying on course was more productive than letting issues simmer for months or years. She prided herself on being able to make tough decisions. “I think that you have to have a certain decisiveness about things,” she said. “People would rather have an answer of ‘no’ than have no answer.”

In addition to the shadow of the deficit, another dark cloud hung over Stanford’s finances when Condi became provost. The university was embroiled in an investigation over alleged overbilling for indirect costs, part of the monies used to perform the thousands of federally supported research projects at the university. Federal research projects are funded with grants that cover two types of expenses, direct and indirect costs. The first are easily identifiable, such as laboratory equipment, supplies, and professors’ salaries for a specific project. Indirect costs, however, cover the utilities, library materials, building maintenance, use of support staff, and other items that are not easily attributed to specific projects. The university and the government agree on an overall percentage of those goods and services to be billed as indirect costs. In Stanford’s case, the percentage billed for indirect costs were the highest of any university in the nation at 74 percent. This meant that a professor who budgeted $100,000 for a research project would receive an additional $74,000 to cover indirect costs for a total grant of $174,000.

In 1990, the federal office that oversees the research budget claimed that Stanford had overcharged millions for indirect costs. The wide-scale audits that followed made big news in the press and Stanford’s reputation was put on the line. The complex auditing process, with dozens of accountants reviewing Stanford’s books at any given time, gave Condi additional supervisory duties in an already demanding job. But when the investigations were completed in 1994, no wrongdoing was found. The federal government “concluded that it has no claim against Stanford for fraud or any wrongdoing or misrepresentation regarding indirect cost submissions,” wrote Gerhard Casper in a public statement.

In addition to unhappy reactions to the job cuts that came with her budget-slashing plan, Condi made some controversial decisions as provost that put her on the firing line. For years, reports had been submitted about the need to hire more women faculty, pointing out that several departments had never hired a woman professor and that, except for the provost, no woman served in the university cabinet. In 1997, Condi admitted that progress was very slow on the issue. She reported that in 1993 the percentage of women on the faculty was 15.8 percent and by 1996 had risen to 17.8 percent—an improvement, but not an earth-shattering one. “Obviously this is slow, steady progress in the right direction,” she said, “but I’d emphasize that the numbers are not flying up.”

Studying the problem, Condi came to the conclusion that the most fundamental roadblock was the slow turnover in senior positions. “You see 1 to 2 percent turnover rates in the tenured faculty,” she explained. “So you simply know that if you’re not enlarging the size of the faculty, percentages are going to move slowly. That’s an arithmetic fact. People may not like that arithmetic fact, but it is an arithmetic fact.”

One incentive to bring more women into faculty positions involved creating a fund for new positions, tailor-made to outstanding women candidates who did not meet specific criteria for other openings. Other than that, the provost’s critics felt that she did not do enough to enforce affirmative action, even though she admitted in meetings that she was a product of affirmative action hiring back in 1981. Condi did not want to send the message to women that Stanford was recruiting them to fill a quota rather than hiring them on their merits. She felt that the positive aspect of showing a commitment to women by setting quotas “is more than outweighed by the downside, which I believe makes people feel as if they are being targeted for the wrong reasons.”

Condi did believe in affirmative action as a starting point in some cases, such as her own, where she was given an opportunity to prove herself but only during a probationary period, after which she was judged strictly on her performance in the political science department. “Done in the right way, affirmative action can be very helpful,” she said. But this did not compel her to institute quotas or make any other sweeping affirmative action policies at the university.

The provost’s affirmative action stance became headline news at Stanford again when she upheld a dean’s decision to not grant tenure to Karen Sawislak, assistant professor of history. Outraged students formed demonstrations on campus, but Condi explained that the dean is held responsible for the quality of the faculty and his decision stands. The provost and advisory board review tenure decisions to make certain that proper procedures were followed in making the determination whether or not to grant tenure. In the Sawislak case, Condi explained, all the procedures were in order. “Tenure is granted to those who have achieved true national distinction in research and excellence in teaching,” she said. “It is a very tough standard, and the dean must decide whether it has been met and make certain that the standard is applied evenly throughout the school. A departmental vote, even a unanimous one, does not usurp the dean’s role in this regard.” She added that affirmative action was not a consideration at this stage, citing a Stanford policy written in 1985. The policy states that affirmative action pertains to the time of search and appointment and the assistant professorship years, but not to the period of tenure review. As she had explained in the Senate meetings about the need to hire more women faculty, Condi drove home the university’s established policy of using affirmative action as a starting point only.

Another controversial issue during Condi’s tenure as provost involved a new core curriculum, “Introduction to the Humanities,” which overhauled both the method and the content of the undergraduate humanities experience. This program, launched in 1997, replaced the previous humanities curriculum entitled “Cultures, Ideas and Values” while expanding upon that program’s multicultural approach. The new humanities course included updated study plans, such as interactive Internet projects and group projects that took the place of final exams. Both the provost and the president of the university fully supported and helped create the new curriculum in the hope that more freshmen would be attracted to humanities courses. Only 12 percent of freshmen showed an interest in studying the social sciences, philosophy, languages, literature, or the arts, a fact that many faculty and administrators were anxious to reverse. “Introduction to the Humanities” included readings on non-Western cultures as well as courses that covered issues of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Condi supported the multicultural aspect of the new curriculum, stating that the story of Western civilization is incomplete without the story of the cultures that it confronted. “The argument that I have never bought . . . is that the study of Western civilization—devoid of the study of all the other civilizations that helped to shape it—was the smart thing to do,” she said. “Human history has been the story of clashes of civilizations and that is the interesting part about it. . . . I never understood the critique that you should teach only Western civilization.”

The changes in curriculum and teaching style were a group effort, spearheaded by a faculty committee and strongly encouraged by Provost Rice and President Casper. “I think the experience that an undergraduate has here in the first two years is just 180 degrees from where it was,” said Condi after the course was launched. “Much more in touch with faculty members, much more small group oriented, much more research oriented.”

Another hot issue that arose during Condi’s term as provost was a housing shortage for graduate students. In May 1998, a group of 1,000 students rallied on campus and 100 camped out for a night on the Quadrangle to protest the shortage of affordable housing. Nearly 900 graduate students who applied for on-campus housing were turned away for lack of room. Condi announced that the university would build new facilities but that the project would take approximately two years after being approved. In the meantime, housing remained a major problem, one which she passed on to her successor.

In spite of controversy over affirmative action, new multicultural programs, and other issues, Condi was widely respected for her achievements with the university budget. At a meeting with the Faculty Senate in May 1996, she announced that the university was not only out of the red, but holding a $14.5 million reserve. “This is something the entire university should be proud of,” she said, attributing the success to spending cuts, a large increase in the value of Stanford’s endowment, and record-breaking fund-raising successes. “I’m very proud we’re fiscally sound now,” she said, but cautioned against going back to old habits. “Universities tend in times of relative flush to keep growing and add functions, and to stop thinking of the necessity for consolidation,” she said. Positions that had been eliminated would eventually be reinstated, for example, moving the ledgers toward another budget crunch. “It seems almost as if there’s a pendulum,” she said, “and you have to be very tough to not have the pendulum swing.”

During her role as provost, Condi continued to teach as a professor of political science. She also renewed her commitment to the piano, joining a faculty chamber group and studying seriously in private lessons. The man who suggested she begin performing again was a colleague at Stanford. “Condi was the provost when I was dean of the law school,” said Paul Brest, who is currently the president of the Hewlett Foundation. A violist, Paul took up the instrument when his children began taking music lessons. “The provost meets with the deans once a month or so,” he said, “and I had heard that she had once been a really serious pianist. I came to one of my monthly meetings with the piano part to the Schumann piano quartet and asked her, ‘How about we play this?’ When she agreed, we started up a piano quartet that played pretty regularly for five years.” The group’s cellist was Walter Hewlitt and the violinists varied, but were primarily Stanford Law School graduate Andrea Chavez and staff member Karen Lindblaum.

Paul said that Condi loved playing piano quartets and quintets and was an excellent chamber music musician. “There’s always a lot of give and take in a quartet,” he said, “with comments like ‘please don’t rush that’ or ‘please play a little bit softer.’ Condi goes so easily with that. She has a very good ear, and she’s a wonderful pianist. String players are always complaining that the piano is playing too loud, it becomes kind of a joke; but she’s able to take criticism, give criticism, and just work with the group. She’s a real team player. You have to do that if you’re playing chamber music.”

This group gave informal recitals in each other’s homes, and enjoyed exploring piano trios, quartets, and quintets by Schumann, Brahms, and others. It offered a challenging musical outlet without the pressure of public performances. But eventually Condi became more serious and set her sights on performing with the Muir String Quartet, a world-class group that often came to Stanford to perform as a scheduled stop on its North American concert tours. Formed in 1980, the Muir Quartet is the resident quartet at the Boston University School for the Arts and winner of the 1981 Naumburg Chamber Music Award. The group is named for the legendary naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir, and donates the profits of its recordings to environmental organizations.

Condi had become friends with the Muir Quartet by reading through pieces with them during their Stanford visits. The quartet always played an informal concert in someone’s home before their Stanford performance, and Condi wanted to work up a piece that she could play with them at one of these pre-concerts. The quartet agreed, and Condi began rehearsing the Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor. This work, considered the pinnacle of Brahms’ chamber music, demands virtuosic technique, especially in the third movement, a scherzo marked Allegro. Condi was already taking piano lessons with associate professor George Barth when she decided to tackle this piece.

“When we began working I didn’t know what to expect,” said George. “She’s a busy woman, and I thought that maybe she would just have a dilettante approach to things. We started working on a Chopin nocturne and the Beethoven Sonata No. 7 in D Major. She soon said she wanted to ‘put more time into this,’ so I decided to turn up the heat and see how far we could go. I discovered that there was no upper limit to what she could do. I pushed and she responded, every week she came ready to go, intensively working on everything. She worked with great intensity and concentration and remembered everything I said—all the nuts and bolts. She made great progress, and I was really impressed.”

Condi worked with George about ten hours a week while she was preparing to do the Brahms with the Muir Quartet. Whether she was rehearsing for a performance or simply working on new repertoire, she considered her lessons a “sacred” time and would not allow any interruptions. This wasn’t an easy feat for the person with the number-two job at the university. “If she got a call from the office she’d say, ‘I’m doing Brahms now,’ and she told them to wait. She wanted them to know that this was her time to do music.”

George recalled that the Brahms Piano Quintet performance, although in an informal setting, was an exhilarating event. “She played it very well,” he said. “I was amazed at her tempo in the scherzo; it was very exciting.” From the beginning of that November evening, her friendship with the Muir Quartet came through. “They began to play,” said George, “and Condi noticed a funny look on the string players’ faces. The opening lines turned into ‘Happy Birthday’ because it was her birthday. They played it through while everyone in the house sang along. Then they started over for real.”

George prefers to work with people like Condi, non-music majors who have a unique commitment to their art. “Most of my students are neurobiologists and geologists who go on to incredible careers in other fields and happen to be great players,” he said. “I’m interested in how far amateurs can go, and I’ve taught some amazing pianists. When I find, for example, someone in physics who has very difficult work to do but has time for piano, I know he’s going to put in the work. A student like this will tell his lab, ‘I’m playing in a chamber competition this week, I won’t be in.’ These are not amateurs in the sense of just messing around, they’re really serious. As a political scientist and provost, Condi was definitely in that group.”

Regularly scheduled faculty talent shows at Stanford revealed just how skilled many of the engineers and math professors really were. Condi appeared on one of these programs with George after mastering another Brahms piece, the two-piano version of his Variations on a Theme by Haydn.“We worked on that and performed it at a faculty talent show,” said George. “It was really fun performing with her. At faculty performances you find all these amazing people crawling out of the woodwork, people who are renowned in other fields and who are also great musicians.” George recalled that Condi later performed the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes, a collection of joyful, short pieces scored for two pianos and chorus.

Condi’s connection with the Muir String Quartet prompted her and her Stanford string player friends to attend Muir’s summer music workshops. They have traveled to Utah to study at the Advanced Quartet Program at the Institute at Deer Valley, making music against the glorious backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains. George Barth came along for two summers to coach them on some of the piano quartet repertoire. Condi has also followed the Muir Quartet to Montana for summer retreats, where she reads through music with them and practices some of her favorite chamber music repertoire. “I now play almost exclusively chamber music,” she said in 2001, “and I have to be selective. I don’t have that much time to practice. And I do like the social aspects of playing chamber music.” Before she began playing with Paul Brest and the other members of the quartet at Stanford, she had only worked on solo piano music. Chamber music opened a new world to her, one that she continues to explore and enjoy. Given the choice, she would prefer playing with a string quartet or giving a solo recital rather than performing a concerto with an orchestra. “I played with orchestras a couple of times,” she said, “and always found it overwhelming.”

George Barth noted that Condi’s skills as a chamber musician—being a good listener and collaborator—were just an extension of her personality. In departmental meetings, Condi the provost was equally attentive. “She would pay attention to everyone and find ways of incorporating everyone,” he said. “That is something one would expect to see reflected in her chamber playing, and I think that is why she’s always taken to this kind of playing. I think she enjoys both things. I also know that her friendships at Stanford are important to her and doing chamber music is one of the best ways to pursue friendships.” George saw first-hand how much dedication Condi put into her music; in spite of her heavy schedule of teaching, researching, and administering the university, she made music a priority and therefore kept a balance of work, art, and soul in her life. “Condi is very self-disciplined,” he said. “She finds time to do things that matter. This is one way that she tries to not let go of things that matter to her.”

Another high priority in Condi’s lifestyle was her commitment to exercise. Stanford had an excellent strength-training department, and she is proud to claim that she worked with Karen Branick, who was Tiger Woods’ strength coach when he was a student at Stanford. After Branick left, Condi trained regularly with Mark Wateska, who developed a rigorous program for her.

Twice a week she put on her sweats, went to the varsity weight room, and began a one-hour workout with ten minutes on the treadmill and fifteen minutes of stretching. She then proceeded to the weights and performed bicep curls, shoulder and leg presses, isolateral pull-downs, abdominal crunches, and many other routines, capped off by a cooldown on the treadmill and more stretching. “I put her through the same regimes I did with any athlete at Stanford,” said Mark. “She felt that her workouts kept her sharp physically as well as mentally.”

Condi, who is five-foot-eight and weighs 140 pounds, trained in order to develop more quickness and agility in her tennis game, to control the stress of her job, and to just see how far she could push herself. She also liked the fact that her regime allowed her to eat whatever she wanted without gaining weight. Photos of Condi in sleeveless gowns, such as the one she wore to the televised NAACP Image Awards in February 2002, reveal her well-toned arms. Condi described her workouts as a crucial break from her work, one of the few activities that get her away from her desk and her meetings. She explained that, unlike people who have children, she has to find another outlet that takes her away from work. “If you don’t have children who are a break on working all the time, you can work all the time,” she said. She also uses her stints on the treadmill to focus on pressing issues, plugging in either rock or classical music, depending on her mood. “I do some of my best thinking on the treadmill,” she said. This is the only time she uses music as an accompaniment to whatever she’s doing. “I get very caught up in what’s going on with the music,” she said, “so only when I’m exercising can I have music as background music.” She often times her treadmill workout to familiar music rather than the clock. “I have to do something to get my mind off that fact that I’m droning on a treadmill for 30 minutes and I usually play on the CD pieces that I know, usually pieces that I’ve played, because I can kind of time my workout to the start of a Scherzo, to know that I ought to run to the end of the Scherzo, or something like that.”

“She’s very goal-oriented, very driven, very competitive,” said Mark. “I would not want to come up against her in any situation.” Each year on her birthday, Mark’s “present” was to coach her through one repetition for each year of her life on the 100-pound leg press. “I don’t think she liked receiving gifts from me,” said Mark, “but that was the challenge—you’re one year better. That’s the approach we took. Age was not something that held you back.”

Mark was impressed with Condi’s self-discipline as well as her unassuming personality. “As a strength coach, I guess I was the low man on the totem poll in the scheme of things, but she never acted like the provost; she didn’t want special treatment, she wanted me to kick her butt. So I never felt intimidated by her position; I felt comfortable being myself and doing my job. That made for a good relationship.” Mark attended one of Condi’s informal performances at Stanford and was astounded by the physicality that her playing required. “He said, ‘You know, that’s every bit as physical playing that piece as anything that I watch with the Stanford football team,’” said Condi. “Pianists don’t often get enough credit for the physical side of playing something like Brahms, which can be quite physically demanding.”

In her first years as provost and professor, Condi had no desire to go back into government service. She was fulfilled in teaching, advising freshman, and guiding the academic course of her graduate students, and she did not miss the pace of Washington. She spent quality time trying to convince her undergraduate students to go for a career in academia, outlining the many perks that had enriched her life—including travel. “I . . . tell them that I’ve been to Europe thirty times or so now, and I’ve never paid my own way,” she said in 1993. Such arguments may also have served to convince herself that she was better off as a professor than as a foreign policy official in Washington.

“I don’t suffer from Potomac fever in the way it afflicts many people who have worked in Washington and spend the rest of their lives wanting to go back,” she said in 1995. “I can say in all honesty that I don’t spend a waking moment thinking about whether to go. I had a chance to finish so much in those two years that I have no thirst to try to do it again.” But by the end of 1998, she had changed her tune.

Five years had passed since she left the Bush administration, and she sorely missed the hands-on foreign policy world. The former president’s son, George W., was seeking her advice on foreign affairs, and these meetings pulled her further toward the practicalities of her field. It appeared to be time for a change, and Condi decided to leave Stanford. “The most important thing became to get back to what I do, which is international politics,” she said in March 1999. “I haven’t been to Russia in two and a half years. For me, going to Russia is like breathing.”

She planned on entering the business world to apply her international relations background in that area. “I’m going to take a leave from the university to pursue opportunities in the private sector that will give me practical experience in economic and political reform,” she said. She hoped to get the most experience in witnessing “the impact of globalization on international financial and political institutions.” She added that she planned to return to Stanford one day, but that “it’s time to get back to my passion: international relations and politics.”

In his remarks at Condi’s farewell celebration, Gerhard Casper joked that no one really believed she was leaving to pursue international politics. “We all know her real passion,” he said, “and the fact that NFL training camps open in only a few weeks.” He also thanked her “for investing as much talent and energy into consolidating the Stanford budget as into unifying Germany. The former may have been a tougher task than the latter and ended up taking more time.”

The ceremony turned poignant when Brenda Sepolen sang two of Condi’s favorite gospel songs, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” and “I Need Thee Every Hour.” Most of the more than 100 people in the room, including Condi, were moved to tears. Later, Gerhard presented Condi with a pricey gift he had acquired with the help of an entire group of Condi well-wishers. She opened the package to find, much to her amazement, a rare, six-volume first edition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Inside, the dedication read:

To Condoleezza Rice
May War be the fiction,
And Peace the reality
With the greatest appreciation and deep gratitude
for her service as Stanford’s 9th Provost.

At the final meeting of the Faculty Senate for that academic year, Condi’s colleague Brad Efron talked about the “warm grace and tough-love honesty” Condi displayed as provost and professor. He also reminded her, during the champagne toast, that her job as a tenured professor at Stanford would not be going anywhere. “It’s like the Mafia,” he told her. “It’s not just something you quit.”

When Condi officially stepped down as provost on July 1, 1999, she declared a one-year leave of absence from the university and re-entered the Hoover Institution as a senior fellow. As an expert in the states of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, she brought years of both academic and government service experience to the Stanford-based research organization, which is dedicated to studying a wide range of contemporary policy issues.

John Raisian, director of the Hoover Institution, remarked that her connections are as impressive as her background. “She has this incredible reputation even though her experiences are somewhat limited by the mere fact of her age,” he said. John described her ability to maintain a power network of Washington contacts by drawing a comparison to another Hoover member, George Shultz, who has been a distinguished fellow at the institution since 1989. “George has this star quality appeal,” he said. “He left the Reagan Administration in 1989 and over the last more than a decade he continues to be very popular and very in touch with significant people around the world. At a junior level, Condi has the same kind of appeal. When she established friendships and associations some ten years ago with people like Colin Powell and Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, she’s maintained them. She’s always had her finger in lots of foreign policy issues even while she was out here on the West Coast.”

John also pointed out Condi’s publishing history and background in various public service organizations. “She has had other sort of advisory interests and capacities, and these are things that matter a lot to a place like Hoover,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is generate ideas that will make the world a little better place, a safer place. We comment on ideas that are in the world of policy and educate people about the facts underlying policies in the United States. This is right up her alley and what she does.” In the Hoover newsletter, John added that “Condi is one of the brightest people I have ever met. She has a wealth of experience, and her enthusiasm is highly contagious. She will become an integral part of Hoover’s foreign policy outlook.”

Two weeks after her entry into the Hoover Institution, Condi was named the recipient of a new endowment donated by philanthropists Thomas and Barbara Stephenson. They created the fund to support a Hoover fellow who has “achieved stature as one of the most outstanding scholars in his or her field with a demonstrated commitment to research of public policy.” The benefactors added, “We are thrilled by this opportunity to support both an institution and an individual who can have a significant, positive impact on an emerging new world.”


One year after Condi became provost of Stanford, she was listed among Time magazine’s “50 Young Leaders to Watch.” They based their selections on people age forty and under who had made “civic and social impact” and whom they thought would “make a difference.” The article predicted that for some of the honorees “solving one problem will inevitably lead to another and another: until, eventually, the new leaders will be ministering not to a neighborhood but to a nation, perhaps to the world. Assuming that we will let them.”

In the article’s brief biographical sketch of Condi, Michael Mandelbaum of Johns Hopkins University predicted that “she has the ability to have a Cabinet-level job—she could be Secretary of State.” This was five years before Condi joined George W.’s presidential campaign as his foreign policy advisor, six years before she was named his national security advisor. At forty, she had already become a major figure in her field and those who followed her career anticipated that she would one day appear on the national political stage. She would not disappoint.

When her friend George W. Bush began pulling together his presidential campaign, she was invited to put her expertise to work for him. She became head tutor among the candidate’s foreign policy experts, head writer of the nuclear strategy speech, and front-and-center figure in the “W is for Women” campaign. By the time it was all over, George W. went a step further. He asked her to stay at his side as his national security advisor. He pulled her all the way into the West Wing, just around the corner and down the hall from the Oval Office.

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