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Bard College's Botstein Discusses His Unlikely Appointment

Bard College President Leon Botstein.
Bard College President Leon Botstein. Video Credit: Daily Voice

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Bard College has long been an icon of higher education in the Hudson Valley, and has steadily grown from a liberal arts school of 600 students to an international institution with several thousand students worldwide.

Leon Botstein was named Bard's 14th president in 1975 and has overseen much of the school's growth, but the 69-year-old conductor says success was anything but a sure thing.

"I often say that if I knew then what I know now, I would have never taken the job," Botstein told Daily Voice. "Not knowing something is a terrific thing. Not knowing what the dangers are."

Botstein says he was given one task upon taking over Bard: "Either make something really important out of this place, or there's no reason for it to exist," he said.

Since taking over, has been a pioneer in linking the liberal arts and higher education to public secondary schools. Botstein oversaw the acquisition of Bard College at Simon's Rock in 1979, the founding of New York City's Bard High School Early College in 2001, and the partnership with  Saint Petersburg State University in 1997 to form the first liberal arts college program in Russia.

Check back next week for Part 2 of the Leon Botstein Interview.

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