Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence
in Teaching, 1984
National Fellow, Hoover Institution on War,
Revolution, and Peace, 1985-86
International Affairs Fellow,
Council on Foreign Relations, 1986-87
School of Humanities and
Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching, 1993
Doctorate, University of Notre Dame, 1995
John P. McGovern Medal
Sigma Xi. Member
American Political Science Association
Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies
Foreign Relations (life member)
Lincoln Club of Northern California
Phi Beta Kappa
BLACK HISTORY: BIOGRAPHIES
(1954 - )
CBN.com Born in the heart of a still-segregated Dixie, Condoleezza Rice,
an African American, was brought up to believe that the sky was
the limit as far as her future was concerned. A professor of political
science for more than two decades, her expertise on the political
machinations of the former Soviet Bloc made her a much-sought-after
consultant in both the public and private sectors. When George
W. Bush took office in January of 2001, Rice became his National
Security Advisor, the first woman of any color to occupy that
Rice credits her parents for instilling in her the notion that
there were no real limits on what she could do with her life—if
she could dream it, she could do it. Although she grew up in the
segregated South, she and her siblings were taught that they could
achieve anything if they believed in themselves. She told Ebony,
"Our parents really did have us convinced that [even though
I] couldn't have a hamburger at Woolworth's, [I] could be president
of the United States."
Rice's parents, John and Angelena, both of whom were educators,
made sure that Condoleezza received a well-rounded education to
prepare her for whatever she chose to do in life. Her mother taught
her to play the piano at an early age, she studied figure skating,
and was encouraged to take the most challenging courses in school.
As a girl, her first love was music, and—thanks to her mother's
lessons—she was playing Bach and Beethoven even before her
feet could reach the piano's pedals.
Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, a city torn apart by racial
tensions in the 1960s, was an important lesson for Rice. Although
her parents tried their best to insulate her from some of the
more virulent hatred at large in that city, even their best efforts
could not shut out reality completely. Among the victims of the
1963 bombing of a black church in the city was one of Rice's kindergarten
classmates. "My parents really provided a shield as much
as they could against the horrors of Birmingham," she told
ABC News. "At the same time I can remember my parents taking
me to watch the marchers—they wanted us to know the history
and to know what was happening."
Although her parents successfully shielded her from some of the
uglier aspects of racism, she did not escape unscathed. She told
Ebony of one eye-opening incident from her high school years.
She was told by a guidance counselor that she wasn't college material,
despite her consistently high grades in college preparatory courses.
"I had not done very well on the preliminary SAT exam. I
remember thinking that the odd thing about it was that [the counselor]
had not bothered to check my record. I was a straight-A student
in all advanced courses. I was excelling in Latin. I was a figure
skater and a piano student. That none of that occurred to her
I think was a subtle form of racism. It was the problem of low
expectations [for African Americans]."
In her early teens, the family moved to Denver. A brilliant student,
Rice began taking college courses while still in high school and
formally entered the University of Denver at the age of 15 to
study piano performance. However, before long, she had to acknowledge
that she didn't possess the right combination of talents to succeed
as a pianist, so she went in search of another major. The answer
came in a classroom presided over by Josef Korbel, the father
of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A lecture by
Korbel on Josef Stalin mesmerized Rice. Fascinated by the intrigues
and complexities of Soviet politics, she decided on the spot to
major in political science. At the age of 19 she graduated from
college magna cum laude.
At the University of Notre Dame, Rice earned her master's degree
in political science, after which she returned to Denver to pursue
her doctorate in international affairs. After completing her doctoral
program in 1981, Rice headed to the West Coast and a job teaching
political science at Stanford University. She quickly distinguished
herself at Stanford, winning the coveted Water J. Gores Award
for Excellence in Teaching in 1984 and the 1993 School of Humanities
and Sciences Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching. She continued
to learn more about the Byzantine politics of the Soviet Bloc,
a region that she found particularly fascinating. During the 1985-86
academic year, she was a fellow at the Hoover Institute, a well-known
think tank based at Stanford. During this period she published
two books that helped to bolster her growing reputation as an
expert on Soviet Bloc affairs. Released in 1985 was Uncertain
Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army: 1948-1983.
Published the following year was The Gorbachev Era, which she
co-edited with Alexander Dallin. More recently, Rice and Philip
Zelikow co-wrote Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study
in Statecraft, released in 1995.
In 1986 her expertise on the Soviet Union earned her an advisory
position with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A Council on Foreign
Relations fellowship brought her to Washington to provide advice
on nuclear strategic planning, during which assignment she worked
directly under Admiral William Crowe. Looking back on that experience,
she later told ABC News, "There were four of us in one little
office, and it was great. I gained so much respect for military
officers and what they do, and I think I really got an experience
that few civilians have." In 1988 Rice traveled to Bulgaria
at the invitation of the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union to
speak to Soviet diplomats and officials on arms control policy.
Acting on the recommendation of Brent Scowcroft, his adviser
on national security affairs, President George H. W. Bush in 1989
named Rice director of Soviet and East European affairs on the
National Security Council. Her duties involved interpreting for
Bush the international significance of events occurring within
the Soviet Bloc. She briefed Bush to help him prepare for his
summit meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in Malta, Washington, D.C.,
Paris, and Helsinki. Rice was later promoted to senior director
of Soviet and East European Affairs and named a special assistant
to the president for national security affairs.
In 1991 Rice returned to her teaching position at Stanford, although
she continued to serve as a consultant on the former Soviet Bloc
for numerous clients in both the public and private sectors. Late
that year, California Governor Pete Wilson appointed her to a
bipartisan committee that had been formed to draw new state legislative
and congressional districts in the state. Serving with Rice—the
youngest member of the panel—were a number of retired state
judges, including a former justice of the state supreme court.
In announcing the makeup of the committee, Gov. Wilson said of
its members in the Los Angeles Times, as quoted by Contemporary
Black Biography: "All [members] have certain attributes in
common. All are distinguished scholars. All are leaders in their
fields, known for impartiality and devoted to the truth."
In 1993, Stanford President Gerhard Casper named Rice provost
at the university, a position that for the first time presented
her with the challenge of managing a budget, in this case one
that exceeded $1 billion. Never one to shrink from a challenge,
Rice quickly boned up on the do's and don'ts of financial management.
Before long she was questioning some of the basic assumptions
about budgeting and, more importantly, getting Stanford's financial
house in order. Coit Blacker, deputy director of Stanford's Institute
for International Studies and a longtime colleague, said of Rice's
handling of the budget on Stanford University's website: "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. 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.
. . . It was courageous."
In addition to her responsibilities at Stanford and her continuing
work as a consultant on matters of Russian and Eastern European
political affairs, Rice has served as a director on a number of
corporate boards, including Chevron, Transamerica Corporation,
and Charles Schwab Corporation. She also sits on the board of
the University of Notre Dame, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan, and the San
Francisco Symphony Board of Governors. Carla Hills, former special
trade representative, has served with Rice on the board of Chevron,
and she's clearly an admirer who feels that Rice's experience
at Stanford should serve her well in the future. "I think
her experience as provost in Stanford has given her an interesting
window on budgeting and management that is really quite extensive,"
Hills told ABC News. Of Rice's management style, Hills said, "I
would say she is firm, which is maybe a nicer word for tough,
and that is because she does her homework and knows her position."
In mid-1999, Rice stepped down as provost at Stanford, and took
up a position as senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. Before
long, however, she found much of her time occupied as an adviser
to Texas Governor George W. Bush, who was then mounting a campaign
for the presidency. Although she'd worked for his father, she
was not all that well acquainted with the Texas governor until
she and his father joined him for lunch during his first legislative
session. They quickly discovered that they shared a love for sports,
Rice told ABC News. "We got along well right away."
During a stay at the Kennebunkport, Maine, vacation home of the
senior Bush in the summer of 1998, she and the governor had a
lengthy discussion about foreign policy. Rice has great praise
for Bush's foreign policy instincts, telling ABC News, "He
is quick in a good way; he has got a very sharp intellect that
goes right to the core of something. Particularly when you are
dealing with areas you may not know very well, the ability to
get to the essence of the problem is critical."
During the presidential race of 2000, Rice served not only as
one of Bush's team of foreign policy advisers but also as a member
of Bush's campaign response team. She stepped forward to defend
Bush after Vice President Al Gore attacked the Texas governor's
lack of expertise on foreign policy. "Where was he [Gore]
when it was time to stand up and be counted in Seattle?"
she asked ABC News, referring to the violent protests surrounding
the December of 1999 meetings of the World Trade Organization
in that city.
Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center and Pentagon, Rice shot into the spotlight. Since
then, Rice has been featured prominently as a government official,
dealing with the "war on terrorism."
Serving now as Bush's National Security Advisor, Rice has attained
a lofty position of influence, one that has never before been
occupied by a woman. But this is a woman who was raised to believe
the sky's the limit, so it's likely we haven't heard the last
of Condoleezza Rice.
Contemporary Authors Online, Gale Group, 2001.
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 3, Gale Research,
Ebony, March 2001.
New York Times, December 3, 2002.
Source: "Condoleezza Rice." Newsmakers,
Issue 1. Gale Group, 2002. Reproduced in Biography Resource
Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2003.
Reprinted by permission of The
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