'Feet to Fire' Leader Shifts Foundation's Direction

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"Holding their feet to the fire" is something David A. Hamburg, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, says he has been doing for much of his professional life.

That proclivity led him in 1958 to establish at the National Institute of Mental Health one of the first clinical research centers in the country that combined psychological and biological variables in studies of depression.

In 1975, it took him from his position as chairman of the psychiatry division at the Stanford University School of Medicine to Tanzania when four U.S. students studying primate behavior under the direction of the ethologist Jane Goodall were kidnapped by opponents of the government in Zaire.


"I had to go over there and do what I could do to help," he says. ''All we knew was that 40 heavily armed men had appeared at the station, and a half-hour later four students had disappeared."

The students were held for ransom for two and a half months. According to press accounts, Dr. Hamburg's role in negotiations for the ultimate release of the students was a decisive one.

The experience, he recalls, redi-rected him toward activities that would have a more immediate impact on "the great social problems of our time."

'Revolutionary Era'

In a similar spirit, since becoming president of the Carnegie Corporation in 1982, Dr. Hamburg, a psychiatrist who received his baccalaureate and M.D. degrees from Indiana University, has worked to institute ''substantial change" in the programs of the foundation.

"I do believe very deeply that we are in a kind of revolutionary era and I saw possibilities [at Carnegie] to do something about that in education," he says.

In 1983, after considering the recommendations of Dr. Hamburg and his staff, trustees of the foundation elected to discontinue grant awards under the program rubrics of higher education, elementary and secondary education, early childhood, public affairs, and the international program.

Beginning in fiscal 1984, the foundation began funding programs designed to promote the avoidance of nuclear war; the education of all Americans, especially youth, for a scientifically and technologically based economy and society; the prevention of "damage" to children and young adolescents; and a better understanding of how to strengthen human resources in developing countries.

The "enduring values" of Andrew Carnegie--his commitment to education, to peace, to social justice, and to the advancement of science and technology--remain within the new program areas of the foundation, but the form they take changes with the times, Dr. Hamburg explains.

$5.5-Million Grant Program

The new $5.5-million grant program called "Education: Science, Technology, and the Economy" and its principal initiative, the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy, is one example of how the foundation is responding to changing societal needs, according to Dr. Hamburg.

"We see educational upgrading as a continuing long-term process," he says. "It's not so much a matter of a deficiency in existing education, but more a matter of the profound changes going on all around us and the necessity for education to take account of those changes."

According to Dr. Hamburg, there is an "enormous" need to strengthen science and technolgy education. "The great issues of the day more and more have some sort of technical content," he says, "and I think we cannot afford, in a democratic society, to have a large portion of the population feeling isolated from 'all that arcane stuff."'

Vol. 04, Issue 19

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