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Zhang:  You mentioned Dr. Bloland.  Can you share with us his role in your life?

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Bornstein: I was divorced and I had two children and he came to the University of Miami and one day I was walking across the campus and he said to a colleague – he was a professor in the School of Education, but not one of my professors; I was done already- and he said to his friend Jean, “I’d love to meet that woman.”  (laughs)  So Professor Jean said, “I know her.  Rita, could you come over here?”  And they invited me to have to coffee across the street in a restaurant, which I did, and Harland and I promptly forgot about this other guy and started talking and talking.  And there were manatees swimming in the water near us and the rest is history.  My first date with Harland was a fourteen mile bike ride in shark valley.  There were lots of alligators but the woman he had taken before me had failed the test – it was a test.  She was like “Ohh alligators, ohhh” and fourteen miles seemed a lot to her.  But anyway, yeah that’s how I met him.  (laughs)

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Bornstein Discusses Learning About Rollins  (Play Audio)


Bornstein:  Actually, during the months before I came, I was in the Archives – I studied everything; I knew more about Rollins than anybody here when I came up for the interview.  One of our students who was a senior at the time had chained himself and some others to a fence at one of the corporations here.  I don’t know if it was Lockheed Martin or – one of them – but because they were building military material and there may have been some plutonium – I don’t really remember anything – but I thought, “Oh, it’s an interesting campus - activist students! (laughs) Look at this, I am going to enjoy that.”  That was the last major student thing like that, but anyway, I thought it was very interesting.  But I had never heard of Rollins before.  I had gotten into the search, and I asked one of the people at Miami about what he knew about it because he was a native Floridian.  “Oh,” he said – hum what did he call it? “Oh, Jolly Rolly Colly - that’s what we used to call it if you went to high school here.”  And I said, “What?  Jolly Rolly Colly?  Oh my God.”  So it didn’t sound very auspicious to me.  But here I am. 

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 Bornstein Discusses Fundraising  (Play Audio)


Bornstein: I was sitting at a board meeting one day - at an executive committee meeting, and I always talked about our fundraising needs when I gave my report;  I used to give a report about everything that was happening with student life and faculty and I always had a few words about fundraising.  And Mr. Tiedtke was sitting beside me – he was about ninety-five when he died, this was a few years before he died, very hard of hearing – and I said, “Well, we need $750,000 before we can start to build the addition on the back of the music building.  And he said, “What?!” (laughs) He said, “Well, suppose you had that $750,000, when would you start?”  I said, “I’d put the shovel in the ground tomorrow, John.”  He’d already made a big pledge to the music building.  “Alright, alright, I’ll do it.” (laughs) That’s the advantage of talking about fundraising all the time.

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Zhang:  Yeah, so another major undertaking besides fundraising, you really raised the academic standards.  You mentioned about the endowed chair.  Can you talk about some of your efforts in that area? (Play Audio)


Bornstein: When I first came I was really – how shall I say it nicely – a little concerned that the standards for promotion and tenure were modest, so I put together a committee and asked them to look in to it and to compare with other institutions and to see if we could raise the standards for tenure and promotion.  I put together a number of committees when I got here; one was a strategic planning committee which I chaired and this committee and several others.  But this was a real challenge and Ed Cohen and Laura Grayson were on that committee, and they kept threatening to quit (laughs) because it was so difficult to get agreement.  You know, this is the heart of a professor’s life, but I wouldn’t let them quit.  I said we have got to stay with this, and in the end they did work with the faculty and the standards were strengthened.  We - you know - we keep improving that as we go along, but that was a good start to this process.  And because I - we were so poor when I came, the endowment was about $37 or 38 million, that when we got an endowed chair – or any other gift – I used it for internal purposes; I offset the budget, so I gave a number of chairs to people who were on the faculty who deserved it.  And I think that helped also raise the self-esteem, and the ambition, and the productivity of the faculty.  I believe in this faculty - I’ve always – I am very close to the faculty even now and think they are the heart of the institution.   The students come and go, presidents come and go, but faculty are pretty stable.

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Alli: I read that your retirement came as a shock to the Rollins community.  How did you know it was time for you to retire?  (Play Audio)


Bornstein: Well, I wrote this book right here about legitimacy, and I was reading the galleys – you know before it’s published, they send you the galleys – and I walked into my husband’s study and I said, “Honey, you know it says here that you should leave while they still love you.  Don’t stay too long.  And maybe it’s time for us to start thinking about it.”  And that’s what – because I had done a lot of research and a lot of people said ten years is about enough time – and it was going to be fourteen years, so we made a decision.  But when I announced it, there was a lot of - I was interested that several faculty had some teary eyes.  And I had some teary eyes too; it was very hard for me to leave – I mean really hard for me to leave, but it was the right thing to do.  I think institution needs to be refreshed, and they need new leadership even if it’s going in the same direction.   But it was hard, it was really, really, really hard.

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