Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations, will discuss her views on foreign policy and the war on terror on Thursday in Chapin Hall. She will be interviewed by author-journalist Hedrick Smith ’55. The event will begin at 8 p.m.
Unlike most lectures on campus, the Albright discussion will be a ticketed event. Tickets, which are free, were made available to members of the Williams community last Wednesday and were opened to the general public yesterday. The event sold out within hours of being opened to the public, though roughly 900 of 1200 tickets available went to students, faculty and staff in the pre-sale.
The decision to require tickets for admission to the event was made because of the large expected turnout as well as because of security concerns. Steven Gerrard, associate professor of philosophy and W. Ford Schumann ’50 Faculty Fellow, has spent the last year and a half organizing the event and has been pleased by the success of the ticket drive.
“You put these things together and worry about only three people showing up,” said Gerrard. “I’m sure there are a lot of disappointed community members [who didn’t get tickets], but this is primarily for the College.”
The daughter of a Czech diplomat, Albright was a refugee from the Nazis in 1938 and the communists in 1948. In 1948, her family moved to the United States, where her father taught international relations. After she finished high school, she went on to Wellesley College, where she graduated in 1959. She continued her higher education at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, received a certificate from the Russian Institute at Columbia University, and received her Ph.D. in 1976 from Columbia University. She is fluent in French and Czech and proficient in Russian and Polish, as well.
Albright helped coordinate the presidential campaign of Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine in 1976 and later became his chief legislative assistant.
In 1978 she was asked by a former professor at Columbia, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as National Security Adviser under President Carter, to join the National Security Council staff as a legislative liaison. She remained on the council until 1981.
In 1982, Albright joined the faculty at Georgetown University, holding the positions of research professor of international studies and director of women students at the School of Foreign Service.
In October 1989 she became president of the Center for National Policy, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization formed as a Democratic think tank to generate discussion and study about domestic and international issues.
She accomplished all of this while raising three daughters and serving as a board member at a number of institutions including the Atlantic Institute, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Wellesley College, Williams Colleges, the Black Student Fund and Washington Urban League.
During this time, Albright also became more active in Democratic Party politics, acting as an adviser to Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro during the 1984 presidential elections, as an adviser to Michael Dukakis in 1988 when he ran for president, and as senior foreign policy adviser during Bill Clinton’s 1992 election campaign. She was the foreign policy liaison in the White House during the transition period.
She was appointed Ambassador to the United Nations, making her the second woman to serve as Chief of Mission to the U.N. Albright found herself involved in political debate, maneuvering, and consultation in the U.N. arena over questions such as peacekeeping, expanding Security Council permanent membership to include Germany and Japan, and clarifying the precise role of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In addition, she participated in policymaking in Washington, D.C. and in the national debate over the direction of American foreign relations in the 1990s.
Her term at the U.N. was followed closely by her appointment as Secretary of State. In 1997, she began a Middle East peace mission, first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations, followed by meetings with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and King Hussein of Jordan. She told Israeli and Palestinian leaders that she would not meet with them again until they were “ready to make the hard decisions.”
The hour-long event will begin with a half-hour question-and-answer session with Smith. Smith, a graduate of Williams, has won the Pulitzer Prize for his work with The New York Times and has hosted twelve award-winning PBS specials on the Washington power game, Soviet perestroika, the global economy, education and teen violence. The discussion will then be opened up to questions from the audience. The event is sponsored by the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Democratic Studies Fund. The fund was created to bring distinguished visitors to campus to work with students and faculty in economics, environmental studies, political science, psychology and sociology to explore how democracy can meet its challenges. “Ford Schumann is intensely interested in the democratic process,” said Gerrard.
Though this is the first year that speakers have been brought to the College through the Schumann Fund, it has already been used to bring a number of speakers who are prominent in their fields. Walter Link, a leader in the movement to promote corporate social and environmental responsibility, spoke earlier in April; Bill McKibben, an environmental writer, came to the College in January and Steven Hawkins, an anti-death penalty supporter, came in November.