Stuffed, often amusing quasi-diary of a year in the driven life of Washington, D.C.'s American University President...


IS MY ARMOR STRAIGHT? A Year in the Life of a University President

Stuffed, often amusing quasi-diary of a year in the driven life of Washington, D.C.'s American University President Berendzen. As Berendzen hops about from sunup to midnight, shouldering crises, chasing donors, enforcing policies, arbitrating the demands of students, faculty and support staff, cheerleading, hosting, and tourguiding, while keeping up his roles as a respected astronomer and fundraising media lion, with barely a glance at his equally harried presidential partner-wife Gail or his stashed away but gifted and forgiving critic, 12-year-old daughter Natasha, he finds that he needs a suit of armor for warding off daily critical blows anent his right and wrong decisions, visions, indecisions, and revisions. Fortunately, he owns just such a steel suit and has been known to wear it to a faculty meeting when having some un-pleasant news to break. Berendzen began this diary at the suggestion of a Reader's Digest editor, dictated it nightly from notes made during the day, often recalling dialogue with a witty vividness. Perhaps his central, most overriding problem is getting a combination sports and convocation center built. Financing this absolutely necessary $20 million addition to the campus takes superhuman powers of fund raising, and the goal is far from being in sight. While he's wooing an immensely wealthy and philanthropic, socalled Arab arms merchant Onto the board of trustees (despite the possibility of offending Jewish donors), Berendzen is also warding off bewildered students who want to know why the sports center hasn't been built already. But the arena is only one item in his architectural vision for the university's future. Squiggling through his hectic day in the administrative compactor, Berendzen also finds himself required to be the life of the party at every social event. Still, recruitment is flagging, beds go empty. New roofs and steamlines are needed. What about the core cirriculum?. . .Much pain and suffering, but no self-pity, and all unquenchably readable.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 1985


Page Count: -

Publisher: Adler & Adler (4550 Montgomery Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814)

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1985