AN EVALUATION of the Rockefeller Foundation, as of any institution, must grapple with these four questions: What is the purpose? How important is it? Has the purpose been achieved? What does this experience foretell, if anything, of things to come?
In the last fifty-one years, the Rockefeller Foundation has appropriated a net total of $797,478,928.36. This amount, averaging about $15.6 million a year, is nearly equal to John D. Rockefeller’s entire fortune in 1913 at the time he established the Foundation, sixteen years after his retirement as active head of the Standard Oil Company. By any philanthropic standard, it is an impressive sum for one self-made man to provide to combat disease, hunger, and ignorance, to advance basic and applied science, and to enrich the human spirit — in short, as the Foundation’s charter states, “to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world.”
When we use the best estimates available, it appears that the dollar volume of private philanthropy in the United States has increased more than fortyfold in the last half century. In 1962, American citizens voluntarily gave $9.3 billion for charitable purposes, of which 51 percent was given for religion; of the total amount, around $700 million, or 7.5 percent, came from foundations, and three tenths of one percent ($29.4 million) from the Rockefeller Foundation. American foundations, comprising a few dozen at the time the Rockefeller began, now have multiplied to fifteen thousand. The Ford Foundation is the largest; over the last ten years, it has granted $1.78 billion, or $178 million a year. Meantime, the federal government appropriation for medical and health-related research for 1962 alone rose to $1 billion, with the annual total for all forms of government-supported research amounting to nearly $15 billion.
In the face of this comparison, it is apparent that no single foundation is in a position to raise the level of the ocean or shoot for the moon with its money. Contrary to a prevalent notion that foundations have more money than they know what to do with, they perennially find themselves trying to spend a little where it will do a lot of good. Acceptance of this last fact lends weight to a contradictory current of opinion: Since the rise of government big-spending programs in the areas of what some call public philanthropy and others lump under the term welfare state, it has become fashionable to say that anything a foundation can do, the government can do better — bigger and therefore better. Have private foundations outlived their usefulness? Have they lost the pioneer spirit or run out of frontiers? Do they deserve their tax exemption? What in plain fact is their place in society today?
The Rockefeller Foundation was one of the earliest in the field of organized philanthropy, and until the rise of the Ford a decade ago, was the largest. After half a century of giving, it should be instructive to penetrate the curtain of reticence that has guarded the older Foundation from general scrutiny.
MONEY AND MISSIONS
Historians regard Rockefeller’s colossal fortune as largely an accident — the product of the discovery of petroleum, followed by the worldwide demand for kerosene for lamps, grease for machinery, and, later, gasoline for automobiles; of the man’s genius for organization (or, as he explained it, “association with the right people”); and of an opportunity for monopoly in a period when it was unregulated by law. Rockefeller, from the time he became a Cleveland commission broker at the age of nineteen, had a profit-sharp eye and the typical young-American urge to do “something big”; he certainly did it when he put together the Standard Oil Company.
Rockefeller was worth around $900 million at his peak. He gave something like $550 million to charity before he died in 1937, at ninety-seven, leaving most of the remainder to his only son. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who before his death in 1960, at eighty-six, gave $400 million. This philanthropy was not motivated by tax avoidance; much of the elder Rockefeller’s giving was planned and consummated while a federal income tax was still regarded as unconstitutional and family fortunes could be passed on intact.
Rockefeller put $100 million into the Foundation in its first year and ultimately increased its endowment to $242 million. These original assets, with good management and good luck, produced something in the order of $1.1 billion in increased market values and annual earnings, leaving current assets of more than $740 million.
Although this sharing of wealth had deep roots in Christian charity, the Foundation represents a splitting off of secular humanitarianism from the religious crusade of the early twentieth century. It never has interested itself in religion, except to avoid giving offense. Rockefeller, himself a closecommunion Baptist, once said he derived his philosophy of life from “The Use of Money,” a famous sermon by John Wesley, a founder of Methodism. Said Wesley: “Gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” One historian speculated that Rockefeller’s dual roles of taking and giving “were completely separate and completely unconscious" and “a beautiful example of the typical American split personality” in business and charity. The split seems less baffling perhaps when one recognizes that success in either must contribute to the individual’s sense of power and self-esteem. Actually, Rockefeller’s habit of charity began when he was sixteen with his first job as a bookkeeper — a fact generally ignored by the Ida Tarbells and other muckrakers who called his money tainted.
The Foundation’s compassion for people in distant places was a logical outcome of Rockefeller’s early associations with the many Baptist missionaries who came to him for money to help save the souls of the “poor heathen Chinee” and others. He gave them hundreds of thousands of dollars in scattered amounts before 1891, when lie called in Frederick T. Gates, a former Baptist minister, to become “the guiding genius in all our giving.”
Gates found Rockefeller suffering from a nervous stomach, losing his hair, and seemingly operating a mission for missionaries at his New York home, 4 West Fifty-fourth Street, and his office at 26 Broadway. Said Rockefeller: “The good people who wanted me to help them with their good work seemed to come in crowds. They brought their trunks and lived with me. I was glad to see them, too. ... So they talked to me at the breakfast table and they rode downtown with me. . . . When I left my office in the evening they were waiting to ride home with me. At dinner they talked to me, and after dinner — ”
“We cut off every one of these private missionary appeals,” said Gates. Nevertheless, the foreign missions, with their secondary interests in clinics, hospitals, and schools — it is difficult to make a Christian of a sick man or one who cannot read the Bible — may be counted as the first of five experiments in giving culminating in the Rockefeller Foundation as a distinctive entity.
Rockefeller’s second large-scale adventure in giving was the founding in 1890 of the University of Chicago, originally proposed by Gates as a Baptist university. Rockefeller began with a $600,000 gift, but by 1910 he had given the university $35 million and had enticed $7 million from others. Two of his practices are evident here — pump priming, as he called small beginnings toward large objectives, and his insistence on matching gifts. As he became more clear in this principle now described as participation and involvement, he sometimes got three dollars for his one.
The third step rose out of Gates’s conclusion that medicine would produce more cures (there were not many then) if it could concentrate more on research. The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was founded in 1901, in the pattern of the Pasteur and Koch institutes in France and Germany. Like the University of Chicago, it became a leader in its field. In recent years its famous laboratories have been reorganized as a graduate university.
The fourth great experiment was the General Education Board, chartered by Congress for “the promotion of education within the United States of America, without distinction of race, sex, or creed.” It was incorporated in 1903, largely on the initiative of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who had graduated from Brown in 1897 and gone to work in his father’s office “to help him in any way I could.” Old Gates, a fierce, heavily mustached enthusiast with a thundering voice, and the quiet, conscientious young man made an excellent team. “Gates did the heavy thinking, and my part was to sell his ideas to Father,” the son recalled.
The motivating force of the General Education Board was education of the Southern Negro, following in the steps of the earlier Peabody Education Fund. However, the founders recognized that if they were to avoid resentment and gain ground, they could not discriminate against white people for whom the need was also great. At that time there were no public high schools in the South. The board decided that the best way to get at this problem was to establish professors of secondary education in Southern colleges to act as high school promoters. Within ten years, the South had more than twelve hundred tax-supported high schools. Ironically, the program gave impetus to the “separate but equal” doctrine; to obtain public schools of any kind for Negroes, it was necessary to provide them for whites, too. Nobody talked integration then.
When the General Education Board faded into the background of the Foundation many years later, it, by itself, had expended $324 million on the strengthening of American universities, colleges, and medical schools, white and Negro, as well as on public education.
The fifth venture and immediate precursor of the Foundation was the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission. organized in 1909 and reconstituted in 1914 as the International Health Commission of the Rockefeller Foundation. Under the leadership of Wickliffe Rose, a professor of philosophy, with a high collar, bow tie, and pince-nez, from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, the Sanitary Commission assembled a group of health-minded physicians and conducted a dramatic demonstration campaign against hookworm disease in the South. This effort, costing only $800,000, laid the groundwork for the Foundation’s earliest contribution, to be described later.
Frederick Gates, often pictured as in a state of alarm at Rockefeller’s accumulation of wealth faster than methods could be devised for giving it away intelligently, is credited with having the grand inspiration. The Foundation, established in 1913, actually was conceived in 1909. The delay was not due to any indecision on the founder’s part, though he always was methodical in examining proposals. He came, with Gates’s encouragement, to the conclusion that he wanted a large foundation of international scope, devoted to the broad purpose of seeking out social evils and remedying their causes, either through its own efforts or through gifts to outstanding people who seemed to be on the right track. He cared little for pet charities. He did not wish to undertake more traditional philanthropies, such as feeding the poor or helping disaster victims. He wanted to start reforms that the public would take responsibility for and pursue at its own expense. He wanted to place a capital fund under the control of an independent board of trustees, eminent persons such as Charles W. Eliot, Charles Evans Hughes, Owen D. Young, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Dr. Thomas Parran, Douglas Southall Freeman, and Karl T. Compton, to name a few among the ninety who have served in this capacity. The board could dispose of principal and income as it saw fit, for, Rockefeller said, “perpetuity is a pretty long time,” and the dead hand of the donor should not attempt to write the future.
The Rockefellers, father and son. saw that proposals could not be investigated and evaluated in a businesslike manner without the help of program directors and field staff knowledgeable in the fields involved. That other great architect of broadpurpose philanthropy, Andrew Carnegie, was already on the move with five different foundations, but Carnegie held his interests close and ran them personally. The three most original aspects of the Rockefeller Foundation were its world-minded ness, its detachment, and its delegation of authority to experts, first conceived as special boards or commissions but ultimately formed into a centralized staff. This was the origin of professional management of foundations, an outcome of the elder Rockefeller’s longtime devotion to detail, his desire in later life not to be bothered with it himself, and finally his son’s talent for inspiring cooperative effort without dominating it. Over a fifty-year period, the Foundation has employed a total of about seven hundred on its operating staff.
Congress had chartered the General Education Board, and it was Rockefeller’s intent that the Foundation, too, would exist at Congress’ pleasure, as an ultimate check on any future misuse of funds. The Rockefeller group tried without success for four years to get such a federal bill passed before settling for incorporation in New York State. The antitrust suit against Standard Oil was still fresh in the public mind, and the company was then fighting the dissolution ordered by the federal courts. The old image of the robber baron came alive again, and President Taft suspected a scheme to perpetuate the vast combination of wealth that the government had been trying to break up.
The Taft Administration declared the Foundation to be not in the public interest. Said Rockefeller: “Sometimes things are said about me that are cruel and they hurt. But I am never a pessimist. I never despair. I believe in man and the brotherhood of man and am confident that everything will come out for the good of all in the end.”
It was prophetic that the New York State legislature’s chartering of the Rockefeller Foundation, on May 14, 1913, passed almost without notice by the press. The Foundation has done a fair job of staying out of the public eye ever since.
What has private philanthropy, taking the Rockefeller Foundation as the case in point, contributed to mankind’s well-being? The fifty years from 1913 to 1963 was a period distinguished by two world wars, the largest pandemic of all time (1918 influenza), a great economic depression, the Communist, Fascist, and Nazi revolutions, any number of civil and guerrilla wars, genocide, purges, race riots, brainwashing, and antihumanitarian and anti-intellectual activity probably unsurpassed in total volume in all previous history. It also has been a period of fantastic scientific and technological and of some social progress, even though few Utopians now survive. Many persons today are sufficiently realistic to agree with Gerard Piel that we are subjects of a “mindless power system.” In the disorganized advance of civilization, the solution of any one problem produces at least one more to be solved. It would be impossible to list the tens of thousands of bets, small and large, that the Foundation has placed on human progress. It is possible, however, to sketch in certain mountain-peak contributions looming above the clouds.
The most dramatic and tangible of the Foundation’s achievements lies in the improvement of people’s health. As a matter of fact, Rose, who became director of the International Health Commission (later called Division), and Gates began with the oversimple conviction that disease was at the bottom of human poverty, hunger, and ignorance. In the American South, for example, the vicious circle seemed clear enough. The General Education Board saw that it was difficult to educate backward people before increasing their capacity to earn a living and pay taxes. On the other hand, it was difficult to make good workers of the sick and the dying. And to improve health the thing most needed was public education!
Hookworm disease was a good place to start breaking the circle. It was then the most prevalent disease in the South, affecting from 30 to 90 percent of local populations surveyed. The disease, caused by a bloodsucking intestinal parasite that entered the body through the soles of the feet, left its victims stunted in growth, anemic, and too tired to work. It was a most inelegant disease, being diagnosed by examination of fecal specimens, treated with oral doses of vermifuges and Epsom salts, and prevented by inducing people to build and use sanitary privies and to wear shoes.
Beginning in the South with hookworm disease, and then extending the attack to malaria and yellow fever and increasing its field to all tropical countries, the Rockefeller Foundation concentrated the bulk of its resources in the early years on public health and medical education. The object was not merely to fight this disease or that, but to use each campaign as a means of creating permanent rural public health services. This meant persuading state and county governments to appropriate tax money for health. It was a revolutionary undertaking, inasmuch as local health departments in those days were generally confined to cities; the United States Public Health Service had only just come into being (1912) and was as yet underfinanced and undermanned; and there was no world health organization at work in disease prevention except the International Health Division itself. As it gathered momentum, the I.H.D. employed as many as seventy public health officers, sanitary engineers, entomologists, and public health nurses and dispatched them into rural America, Latin America, the Far East, Southern Europe, and Africa to conduct surveys and control programs.
The I.H.D. established its own training schools in Alabama and Georgia and its own research laboratory in New York City. It threw the weight of Rockefeller millions into the founding of the first and second schools of hygiene and public health, at Johns Hopkins and Harvard, and subsequently helped similar schools throughout the world. The Foundation then sent young doctors to these schools for modern training.
Every authoritative history of public health in the United States gives credit to the Rockefeller Foundation as an active partner in the establishment of the nation’s full-time county health officer system. The Sanitary Commission was an important source of rural public health funds, and beginning in 1916, the Foundation became a major contributor to county health budgets, and remained so for many years after federal, state, and county health monies had started to flow. Statistics tell the story. From 1908 to 1933 the number of counties with full-time health officers increased from one to six hundred. During the same period, the nation’s overall death rate was reduced 25 percent.
This was a classic example of what a little pump priming, private initiative, and aroused public interest could bring about. It involved more than just a rich man’s largesse or just tax money; it was also a matter of finding the right people to get things started and set a good example. Rose and the dedicated young doctors that he hired for $1800 to $2500 a year were as practical as they were inspired. He told them to preach public health but keep the Foundation in the background, to let state health departments take the lead, and to go only where they were invited and where local funds were forthcoming. If an agreement was reached, the Foundation man became the county health officer, on assignment by the state. The usual budget for a county health unit for the first year was $10,000, split fifty-fifty between Rockefeller and the local taxpayers. The Foundation grant was cut in half in each subsequent year until, in the fifth year, the county found itself operating a county health office on its own. This weaning process was a bit painful to county boards hopeful of getting something for nothing, but no community gave up its health office after witnessing the decline in hookworm disease, malaria, dysentery, typhoid fever, and undernourishment of babies. This system, defined as “helping people help themselves,” proved far more effective than the type of model demonstration program done with a federal grant by an expert team from outside, at no cost to the community, because the latter approach encourages neither local responsibility nor a permanent organization.
When the Foundation brought its International Health Division to an end in 1951 after thirty-seven years’ operation at a cost of $94 million, the public health gains of Foundation-government partnerships were obvious. The world had become healthminded. Death rates from infectious diseases had declined almost everywhere. Malaria had disappeared from the southern United States and from some areas of the world where the Foundation had done effective work, though it still took its toll elsewhere. Yellow fever had ceased to be a human problem, thanks ultimately to Dr. Max Theiler, an inconspicuous virologist who in 1937 developed the famous 17D vaccine in the Foundation’s laboratories in New York and later won the Nobel Prize for it. Hookworm disease, a tougher adversary than Gates and Rose had imagined, had all but disappeared from the South; it remains as a lesser problem in the various tropical areas of the world. But the personal hygiene and sanitation emphasized in the hookworm fight had yielded far broader health rewards, as they had hoped it would.
Although no one has thought to record the fact before, the World Health Organization, founded by the United Nations in 1948, is a living testimonial to the old International Health Division. Overriding Russian proposals for a supergovernment agency, the WHO founders adopted the Foundation’s time-tested philosophy of working through established governments by giving stimulating grants and technical assistance. A good many of the WHO founders were public health officers who had been trained under Rockefeller fellowships.
A SECOND mountain peak, heightened by general approbation for any agency which helps young men in their careers, is the Foundation’s fellowship program, begun early and still continuing. All told, it has provided $64.6 million for 17,500 training grants, largely for foreign scientists and scholars coming to the United States for advanced training and pursuit of their research interests. In addition, it has financed fellowship programs of the National Research Council, for medical and natural scientists; the Social Science Research Council, for social scientists; and the American Council of Learned Societies, for scholars in the humane arts. The fellowship programs of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation are larger extensions of the kind of training support pioneered by the Rockefeller and other foundations. Such programs are central, of course, in solving professional manpower problems.
The Rockefeller Foundation for a quarter of a century set the world an example in the free support of scientific research, and this certainly ranks among its great contributions. Observing that knowledge in the sciences concerned with life lagged behind that in physics, chemistry, and mathematics, the Foundation shifted its first-priority interest to research in the medical and natural sciences, beginning in 1930. Funds were offered to outstanding institutions and individual scientists as institutional grants, endowment funds, departmental revolving funds, and grants for two, three, or more years for specific programs or projects. The Foundation and its companion boards (including the International Education Board for a time) were the largest single source of noncommercial support of medical and biological research in the United States, and an important source internationally, for some years prior to the upsurge of federally financed projects during World War II.
One of the oldest, most-quoted studies in the behavioral sciences was supported by Rockefeller medical research money: Dr. Elton Mayo’s so-called Hawthorne study in Illinois on the effects of ventilation, room temperature, illumination, and fatigue on the efficiency of Western Electric Company workers. It showed, surprisingly, that these variables were not as important as the sense of selfimportance the workers derived from being studied. In sum, no matter what else an employer does, his employees do better work if he takes an interest in them. The great current emphasis in psychological and sociological research on controlling the effects of observer on observed has its roots in the Hawthorne findings.
One way of getting at the value of such research aid is to look at Nobel Prize winners in science. Of the 180 men who won the prizes in medicine and physiology, in chemistry and in physics, in the last fifty years, sixty-one, or 34 percent, received Rockefeller support before they received laureate honors, in some cases thirty years ahead of the award. Of sixty-seven prizewinners from 1914 through 1962 in medicine and physiology alone, thirty-one, or 46 percent, had prior Rockefeller aid. The Nobel Prize is not a definite index to foresight in support of scientists. It is well known in research circles that more deserve the Prize than get it. Then, too, scientists may get financial aid from several sources. Yet, what other agency can claim this kind of record?
The Nobel-honors harvest in 1962 was particularly gratifying to the Foundation in the persons of James D. Watson, Francis H, C. Crick, and Maurice H. F. Wilkins, the three molecular biologists who determined the double-spiral structure of the nucleic acid molecule. Dr. Linus Pauling, who received Rockefeller support for twenty-two years before he won the 1954 Prize in chemistry, was the first to identify a disease — sickle cell anemia — as due to a defect in the molecules of the cell — in this case, a red blood cell. Starting with him, the Foundation invested heavily in the experimental biologists who were seeking to bring mankind to the threshold of an understanding of the “secret of life.” Watson, Crick, and Wilkins received Rockefeller support for periods of seven to eleven years before their joint Nobel award in medicine and physiology.
THE Rockefeller Foundation, an energetic sponsor of the spirit of international cooperation through the lean years of American isolationism, has been a leader in the most scientific attempt to date to achieve worldwide human understanding. This is another mountain peak, albeit one still obscured by hostile clouds. The subject under discussion here is called international relations at its political, legal, and economic levels, and intercultural, or crosscultural, understanding on the planes of anthropology, psychology, language, literature, history, and art. Ordinarily in the past, the approach to foreigners, whether by Christians or Communists, traders or evangelists, has been to subordinate and exploit them. The social science method, brought to its maturity as an academic discipline with Rockefeller encouragement in the 1920s under Beardsley Ruml, postulates that you cannot help other people, even in such fundamental matters as keeping them alive and well, until you understand how they think and feel. This means putting aside egocentric and ethnocentric motives and becoming a student of their style of life.
The Foundation’s public health officers were good at this, at an intuitive level, but it remained for the social scientists and humanities scholars to accomplish something at an intellectual level, with the help of $187 million of Rockefeller money. Paradoxically, the most dramatic contribution falls under the heading these days of “knowing your enemy.”
In 1932 the Foundation humanities program began to stress foreign-language study. Dr. David H. Stevens, an English professor from the University of Chicago, the program director then, was particularly interested in Japanese and Chinese. Stevens obtained Foundation support for the Library of Congress as a study center. Russian was added to the program. Twelve institutions had started courses in these three languages by the time of Pearl Harbor. Foundation gifts to the American Council of Learned Societies paved the way for the Council to develop the materials, methods, and personnel needed in the United States Army languagetraining program. Some thought this to be a form of boondoggling, but our troops had to go everywhere and talk to everybody in World War II; lack of communication could have been disastrous.
The results constituted a spectacular, though unsung, victory for the humanities people; it was they and not the government who had come prepared. “Partly as a result of the Foundation’s pioneering role, virtually every foreign language of importance in every part of the world is now covered in research and training in this country, with support increasingly provided by the federal government,” one Foundation official commented.
The climax of this effort to understand the stranger came when the Foundation provided $250,000 in 1945 to found the Russian Institute at Columbia University. The first of its kind, the Russian Institute set up a two-year course to train “area specialists” in various aspects of Russian life from Marx to Minsk. First requirement of the expert: a command of the language. Again with Rockefeller help, other universities established Russian centers and, as at Columbia, schools of international relations encompassing other cultures. A large portion of the Russian Institute graduates are in the State Department, the armed forces, and other government agencies.
It became apparent that the Russian Institute was a great success when Soviet observers repeatedly condemned it as “a training center for spies, imperialists, reactionaries, and pseudoscientists.” This strong reaction could be interpreted as high praise. At one time it was noted that two thirds of the American Embassy staff in Moscow were Russian Institute graduates.
Again on the thorny diplomatic front. Rockefeller financed the Institute of International Relations at Geneva from 1927 to 1948; it is now largely supported by the Swiss government. Foreign service students from the United States and many nations, including Russia, go there for training in international law, economics, and politics. What do they learn? The big idea is to teach the objective method: to encourage the young diplomat to look at the world in broad, relativistic terms, and to discourage the narrowly partisan or blindly nationalistic viewpoint.
Of course, another index of the Foundation’s contribution in foreign affairs is that it has furnished secretaries of state for the last two administrations. John Foster Dulles was chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation’s board before President Eisenhower summoned him to Washington. Dean Rusk was president of the Foundation for eight years before the late President Kennedy appointed him Secretary of State.
FIGHTING hunger, like fighting disease, is a tangible that everybody can understand. In a recent success, constituting the fifth mountain peak, it fell to the Rockefeller Foundation to furnish the leadership in completing Mexico’s Paz y Pan, or “peace and bread,” revolution. The Foundation’s current efforts to show underfed people how to increase food production began with a casual comment in 1941 by Henry A. Wallace, then Vice President of the United States, to Mr. Raymond B. Fosdick, then Foundation president and himself a longtime internationalist who had fought by President Wilson’s side in a bitter, losing battle for United States entry into the League of Nations. Mr. Wallace, just back from a trip to Mexico, said that an increase in the yield per acre of corn and beans in that country could contribute more than anything else to the welfare and happiness of the Mexican people.
In this neighborly observation, Mr. Fosdick recognized what Frederick Gates used to call a “pregnant idea.” The Foundation made the customary on-the-spot expert survey, and Don Marte Gomez, then Mexican minister of agriculture, invited its assistance in an experimental crop and farm demonstration program of the kind that, under Department of Agriculture and aggie college sponsorship, has given the United States more food than it knows what to do with. In 1943 Gomez created the Oficina de Estudios Especiales and, upon Fosdick’s recommendation, named Dr. J. George Harrar as its chief. Dr. Harrar had been head professor of plant pathology at Washington State College and had had experience in Latin America. He built up a staff of twenty-one American agricultural scientists and one hundred young Mexicans in training (annually), in a program centered at the National School of Agriculture at Chapingo, near Mexico City, but extending in fieldwork to various parts of Mexico.
The task was not easy. Much of Mexico’s soil is poor, and the furnace-hot climate of the lowlands too dry or too wet, the mountain country too rough and windy. The average per-acre yield of corn was about one third and of wheat about one half the average in the United States. There were problems of seed and soil selection, water, chemical fertilization, and weed, insect, and disease control. Also, there was the Mexican attitude toward gringos. Fortunately, agricultural scientists are experienced in practical psychology as well as in such subjects as plant genetics. They work among some of the most reactionary of human beings — farmers. Happily, too, you can measure the results of agricultural know-how from season to season in acres planted and bushels produced.
“Our problem basically was to cultivate personnel and crops at the same time,” recalls Dr. Harrar. “We brought in young men from the agricultural schools to work during vacation periods. From these we selected the best to join our office for more systematic training, and from this group we chose others to receive fellowships and scholarships for study abroad. Always we saw to it that there were jobs waiting for them.”
Briefly, the overall result agriculturally has been to remove Mexico from the list of have-not nations dependent in part on imports of corn and wheat. Today it is self-sufficient and, indeed, able to export a little. In twenty years the nation’s corn production tripled, wheat and bean crops more than tripled, and food production has outrun human reproduction. Where in 1943 Mexico’s population of 21 million averaged 1700 calories a day, its 31 million persons now average 2700 calories a day. With feed more plentiful, chicken, egg, and cattle yields have soared; thus, the diet contains more proteins and provides better health.
All this was accomplished at a cost to the Foundation averaging only 1500,000 a year, or about $10 million for the entire experiment. As usual there was a pump-priming effect, first and foremost through increased expenditures by the Mexican government. The Ford Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (AID) have followed up with supplementary grants to expand the laboratory built by the Rockefeller Foundation at Chapingo and to add field research centers. Meanwhile the Foundation has moved on, with agricultural programs in Colombia, Chile, and India. Also, the two foundations, Rockefeller and Ford, are financial partners in rice research in the Far East.
The Mexican effort has become a model in technical aid to an underdeveloped nation. It was a quiet-action, not a big-talk, program. It was not a crash program; that type tends to run into cultural resistance and eventually backslides into old ways. The Mexican government today has a warm feeling toward gringos for, as Dr. Julian Rodriguez Adame, present minister of agriculture, points out, thanks to American training, Mexicans are now technologically self-sufficient in agriculture.
One enthusiastic American observer compares George Harrar with Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican national hero who led the peasant revolt against agrarian feudalism a half-century ago: “As Zapata had been the warrior of agrarian reform, Harrar became the warrior of the agricultural revolution.”
SOLUTIONS PRODUCE PROBLEMS
“In many ways,” observes John Beaven, assistant director of the Nuffield Foundation in London, “Rockefeller has been the model foundation. Certainly, all general-purpose foundations created in the past thirty years have learned from its example.” Ford Foundation officials themselves have said they were following the pattern established by the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Corporation. Beaven reminds critics who belittle the current efforts of these foundations: “They were the private pioneers of much experiment and welfare which are now done by the State itself. Indeed, the test of success foundations used to apply to their missionary efforts was whether the public authorities felt compelled to take them over and run them with public money.” The Rockefeller Foundation still applies this test — for example, in Mexico — as an indication of the need to be moving on to something else.
In principle, the function of a large, independent foundation is the same as it always has been: to be a catalyst. There are many things the government or some agency of it would like to do but cannot since it is responsive to public pressures and civil-servant timidity, and is not only legally but politically accountable to the public for use of tax funds. On evidence, the fundamental value of the private foundation lies in seeking out and demonstrating what needs to be done but what is overlooked, unpopular, or too controversial, and thereafter creating a public demand for its product. In this pursuit the trustees and staff have to be wise and brave enough to expect and withstand withering denunciations from time to time. They must also expect failures, setbacks, and disappointments.
These they do have.
The Rockefeller Foundation took quiet pride in providing Dr. Ernest O. Lawrence of the University of California a new $1,150,000 cyclotron for his atom-smashing before World War II, only to find after the war that this machine furnished the first uranium 235 for the atom bomb. Lamented Mr. Fosdick: “No grant had ever been made for a destructive purpose, let alone such a lethal weapon as this.”
The outcome of any given grant or program is quite unpredictable. For example, it might be said that the Foundation conquered yellow fever in a thirty-year effort because it got a scientific tiger by the tail and could not find a way to let go. The original idea was that yellow fever could be rapidly controlled by eradicating the mosquitoes that carried it around urban dwellings in Latin America and Africa. Then, almost as the Foundation’s president was proclaiming the disappearance of this disease from the Western world, an epidemic broke out in the jungles of Brazil. Now the Rockefeller scientists found that yellow fever was also a monkey disease; there was no hope of eradicating the mosquitoes that carried it in the jungle treetops. Meanwhile there was a hot argument about whether yellow fever was caused by a virus or a bacterium. It was a virus. The new knowledge cost the lives of six of the Foundation staff. The scientists retreated to the laboratory, where Dr. Theiler eventually produced a safe, effective vaccine.
This was not quite the end of the story. Some of the first vaccine produced by the Foundation and used in the Army became contaminated with serum hepatitis virus, infecting 28,585 vaccinated soldiers and killing sixty-two. The error in manufacture was soon corrected, but not before serum hepatitis became known as “Rockefeller disease” from General Eisenhower on down. Nevertheless, the vaccine was of strategic importance in maintaining a safe military air transport route across West Africa.
A common charge against large foundations is that they favor medical research because it is a good, safe bet! Mr. Fosdick remarks that the hepatitis incident gave him “the most anxious days I ever went through.”
As refutation of another sort of complaint, that foundations stay away from controversial issues, Rockefeller money supported the report made in 1932 by the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care and also the best-selling Kinsey studies of sexual behavior in the human male and female (1948 and 1953). The first study recommended group medicine and voluntary health insurance, then opposed by the American Medical Association as socialistic threats to the private practice of medicine. Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey’s surveys recommended only that we recognize that there is a greater volume and variety of sexual activity in this country than nice people might believe or consider normal. His research provoked volcanic criticism as well as wide acclaim. Indeed, two famous adversaries, religion and psychoanalysis, found themselves in temporary agreement, against Kinsey.
The Foundation has long been aware of one of sex’s more important by-products — population. Since 1921 it has spent $4.5 million on population research. In population control, it must be stated in all candor that a decade ago the Foundation did muff the opportunity to assume frontier leadership in the same bold way it had taken on the problems of disease and hunger. The population explosion is not the result of any special increase in sexual activity or any large increase in the birth rate, but mainly the consequence of a falling death rate resulting from the reduction of famines and general undernourishment, plus specific disease prevention and treatment. It is not a new problem. Mark Twain saw it coming before his death in 1910.
In 1947 the International Health Division, which except for virus research seemed to have run out of programs, proposed that it tackle population control. With the encouragement of John D. Rockefeller III, then a trustee but not yet chairman of the board, the Foundation in 1948 dispatched a team to the Far East to make a survey of the human avalanche there. It came back with a recommendation that the Foundation accept the challenge head on, in a big action research program.
But this proposal never reached the board of trustees, although there were protracted staff and trustee discussions of the problem. Opinion appeared divided: for, against, and “how do we do it?” With Kinsey and his males in the news, it looked to some as if the Foundation would be jumping from the sex “frying pan” into the birth control “fire.” Two things were clear: the ideal contraceptive for mass use had not emerged; and anyone who champions birth control by artificial means must anticipate politically potent denunciations from the Catholic Church. The objective became lost in discussions of human ecology, one of those wonderful bushel-basket terms capable of holding many things but not necessarily of carrying water. It was agreed that the Foundation would make increased grants for population research, which indeed it has.
Mr. Rockefeller III, for one, was not content to let the larger opportunity get away. His grandfather and father had been interested in the Far East. He was convinced some strong organization should tackle the problem. If the solution was not clear at the outset — well, as it turned out, it hadn’t been in yellow fever either. Someone should accept the mission of arousing governmental, university, scientific, clinical, and public interest in finding the solution. Here was a challenge to plunge into the middle of a vastly neglected problem characterized by one commentator as a bigger danger to mankind than the hydrogen bomb — the worldwide fallout of too many persons per square mile of inhabitable land.
Mr. Rockefeller, however, was only one trustee, and he did not run the Foundation. He was in the position of his father, who used to say: “I have only one vote on this board and I am often outvoted.” In 1952 he personally contributed $1,250,000 and, with Rockefeller Foundation staff cooperation, started a new foundation, the Population Council, to carry out the program recommended by the Foundation’s survey team.
The Population Council, a stepchild as it were, now spends $3 million a year in funds from the Ford Foundation, the major supporter, as well as from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, and others. It has become the acknowledged leader in the field of action research on population control. It operates its own laboratory at the Rockefeller Institute, makes research grants to others, trains demographers, supports United Nations regional training and research centers in Chile and India, conducts a family-planning program in Pakistan, and provides technical aid in consultation with foreign governments. Since 1952 Japan, India, Pakistan. Egypt, Korea, Chile, and China have announced government policies favoring birth control. Another encouraging sign was the late President Kennedy’s modification of the Eisenhower hands-off policy. The United States now offers cooperation to other governments seeking information and assistance in population control.
In its philosophy the Population Council is a logical extension of the old International Health Division. It does not say, Here you doctors have been so busy saving lives and now look where we are. It regards the reduction of the death rate among children as the first step in population control. Families in most cultures attach great value to having children, especially sons. When there are high infant and child mortality rates, large families are necessary to assure some survivors. The second step is to show uneducated people that they do not need large families but instead birth control to assure their families of health and prosperity.
FOUNDATION MEN AT WORK
The Rockefeller Foundation has 205 employees in its New York office and a field staff of ninety-five scattered around the world. In such a philanthropic anthill, as in any large organization, no individual is indispensable, and with the passage of time everyone is replaced, the men at sixty-five and the ladies at sixty, a curious retirement rule containing an implication that organized philanthropy is mostly a man’s world. The organization goes on because the trustees have never wished to exercise the privilege, bestowed upon them by the founder, of spending it out of existence, as was done with the General Education Board. Yet this is a corporation with a soul, and, like all corporations, it depends on personal leadership for new vitality.
It was natural that George Harrar should emerge from the Mexican agricultural success as a Foundation hero. When Dean Rusk became Secretary of State in 1961, the trustees chose Dr. Harrar to succeed him. The seventh Foundation president in fifty years, he is the first to rise to this position from the staff, where since 1952 he had served as deputy director and director for agriculture and vice president.
The Harrar neck appears well adapted to being out, which it is in the Foundation’s current focus of interest on selected universities and regional research institutes in the developing nations. At fifty-seven, he is a bettcr-than-average-sized man, ruggedly handsome, with a round head, receding hair, pale-blue eyes, heavy jowls, and a stocky build. He speaks with a bass voice, in swift, overpowering sallies and deft asides, and as necessary in English, Spanish, or Portuguese, and occasionally in French and German. Combining natural serious-mindedness with an easygoing manner and gift of banter, he is given in informal conversation to such sally assertions as “We have a chance to drive home the golden spike right now,” “We have a problem of leadership; we have to help the horse through the gate,” and “That program was shot out of the saddle.”
His facile robustness disarms the newcomer, who, knowing that Dr. Harrar is a biologist and plant pathologist (via Oberlin, Iowa State, and the University of Minnesota), only gradually becomes aware that the man combines the memory for detail of an attorney and the intact affability of a diplomat with the breezy idiom of a Midwesterner (he was born in Ohio). In formal speech his ambassadorial qualifications emerge; he is a master of high-altitude abstraction and the holeproof statement that may conceal as much as it seems to reveal. Harrar walks, as he talks, with a rush, and in total configuration can be typed as actionoriented, an interpretation supported by his remark, “I am used to working under pressure.” He is not only used to it, but obviously enjoys it.
As head keeper of “all that money,” George Harrar easily rates as one of the world’s more sought-after men, and he also rates as an expert in the fine art of saying no. The Foundation receives an average of 6000 grant applications a year, approves 1200 (20 percent) and declines 4800 (80 percent). (It speaks softly of its “declinations” and does not reject anything.) These figures should dispose of any question of the Foundation’s having more money than it knows what to do with. On the face of it, the demand for Rockefeller money in philanthropic form is five times greater than the supply. This reasoning could be faulty — in philanthropy, supply appears more likely to increase demand than demand to increase supply.
When I joined the Foundation staff as a science writer a year ago, I asked a well-informed friend in the fund-raising business if he thought it would be a good place to work, “What would heaven be like?” he replied, presumably succumbing to the fund-raiser’s criterion that where money is, is the place to be. I soon learned, out of my own ignorance and that of my friends, that a lot of people do not know where heaven is, much less who runs it.
People often confuse the Rockefeller Foundation with the Rockefeller Institute, equally independent and famous in its own right, and with the Rockefeller Center, a fabulous chunk of real estate and skyscrapers substantially owned by the Rockefeller brothers. The Foundation offices before 1960 were in the RCA Building but were moved to solve a space problem. Mr. Fosdick and other old-timers look in faint dismay on the new quarters on the forty-first and forty-second floors of the modern Time & Life Building, a part of Rockefeller Center at Sixth Avenue and Fiftieth Street. Whereas the old offices were traditional and cramped, the new ones are contemporary, spacious, and bright with daylight, decor, and skyline views. A blackish, salt-and-pepper carpeting covers the corridors and work areas from wall to wall and even extends throughout the gentlemen’s room next to a magnificent boardroom. The offices, each with ample built-in bookshelves, are individually decorated. The president’s office has emerald-green carpeting, red and buff chairs, and a low, circular worktable, as well as a conventional executive desk.
Another bit of confusion involves Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Friends kept asking me, “How’s Nelson?” “Nelson,” I learned to say with a proper degree of restraint, “has nothing to do with the Rockefeller Foundation.” Three other brothers, David, Laurance, and Winthrop, are equally devoid of Foundation connection. John Rockefeller III, the eldest brother, is chairman of the board but maintains his offices elsewhere in the Center.
As already indicated, the original John D. Rockefeller placed full control in the hands of a board of nationally prominent men. Family interest has been maintained through board membership based on primogeniture. The elder Rockefeller himself was a trustee for the first eight years, but never attended a meeting. He left development of the Foundation to his son, who was chairman of the board until 1939. The board in 1931 elected Mr. Rockefeller Ill as a trustee, when the tall, shy Princeton graduate was only twenty-five. He became chairman in 1952. Now fifty-eight, he is the oldest board member in terms of service — thirty-three years.
On the present board, the oldest member is Dr. Lowell T. Coggeshall, sixty-two, vice president of the University of Chicago; the youngest is Robert F. Goheen, forty-four, president of Princeton. In between, one notes such names as Barry Bingham, editor in chief of the Louisville CourierJournal; Frank Stanton, president of Columbia Broadcasting System; Thomas J. Watson, Jr., director and chairman. International Business Machines Corporation; Ralph J. Bunche, undersecretary for special political affairs, United Nations; and Lord Franks of Headington, provost of Worcester College, University of Oxford. The board, which receives no pay, is made up of four industrialists, two bankers, two economists, two medical scientists, a physicist, newspaper publisher. lawyer, political scientist, philosopher, classical scholar, and priest, plus the chairman and president. There were two vacancies at this writing.
The Foundation’s only connection with the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey is that it owns 2.13 percent of that company’s stock. This comprises around 45 percent of the Foundation’s assets. Growth of this and other stocks has added a couple of hundred million dollars in market value to its capital fund during the last ten years. Meanwhile, through increased earnings and some dips into capital, the Foundation has doubled its spending; where it expended about $15 million in 1953, the total exceeded $35 million in 1963. The cost of doing philanthropic business has averaged 10 percent a year in recent years; this amount ($3.2 million in 1963) includes not only true administrative overhead but some supporting services to operating and grant programs. For example, the Foundation administers a $4-million-a-year purchasing program for grantees and field staff, and its travel service purchases close to $1 million a year in airline tickets for fellows, grantees, staff officers, and consultants. By any objective standard, the 10 percent figure would seem to leave little room for cynical suspicion that Foundation officers may have narrow notions of whose well-being the founder had in mind.
The Foundation does not pay its staff fantastic salaries, despite its assets. In fact, until recent years its officers felt their job was all dedication and no dough. A tradition of frugality established by Gates and Rose finally gave way before inflation and the difficulties of finding and holding staff. Neither professional nor clerical salaries are competitive with those of private industry, but officer salaries are equivalent in take-home pay and retirement benefits to those of professors in first-class universities (the source of most of the staff), and include free health, group fife, and travel insurance. Officers stationed overseas get a 10 percent salary increase and a living allowance, which, together with the usual availability of servants at low cost, provide some inducement to taking assignments in the tropics.
Travel holds no charm for the typical Foundation officer, who is expected to spend three or four months a year traveling, mostly by air and mostly abroad, in accord with the Foundation’s look-see policy of investigating opportunities and its diligent pursuit of people and ideas worth supporting. Remarks one veteran of India and Latin America: “A trip to Europe or the Orient may be exciting the first time or two you make it, but I fly about 50,000 to 60,000 miles a year. You get tired. The jets are a little better than the piston planes, but whenever I get a chance, I go by train or bus.” The Foundation has lost only one officer in a plane crash.
Its forty New York-based officers and consultants are the Foundation’s eyes and ears. They investigate applications, make recommendations, maintain liaison with public and private agencies, and supervise grant and operating programs. These activities formerly were carried on with a great diversity and independence of program interest and effort, but now have become more closely integrated within the major objective of advancing Western science, technology, and culture in underdeveloped countries. Most requests for money come from nonprofit institutions — the only kind to which the Foundation will give aid. They are weighed in the scale of broad purpose, as “in” or “out of” program, and in competition with all others.
The Foundation structures its executive management for the most part along lines familiar to industrial corporations, with strong administrative power centered in the president and with the board and its executive committee sitting in a position of review and decision on staff recommendations and, of course, of final authority on policies and appropriations. The executive committee meets six times a year, and the full board twice, in April and December. The officers themselves have the power to turn down an application. Grants in aid up to $15,000 may be made without prior board approval. Grants above that figure require approval of the executive committee, or the board if above $500,000.
The grant applicant cannot appear before the board personally. The trustees deliberate in complete anonymity and do not record their discussions. If an application comes from an institution in which a trustee has a direct interest, he absents himself from the discussion and action. Mr. Fosdick recalls one exception, a grant proposal in behalf of the Council on Foreign Relations. The trustees present at the time, all having some official interest in the Council, rose as a group to leave the room. The chairman waved them back to their seats, and they voted the money.
The docket that the staff brings to the board is a pivotal instrument. The docket conferences of the principal officers preceding board meetings can be lively affairs. The officers seek to sharpen one another’s thinking by picking friendly holes in each other’s proposals (Dr. Harrar does not expect any program director to originate a proposal that he himself does not favor and cannot defend). But the discussions are more cooperative than competitive
-more like a scrimmage before the big game than a shooting gallery. The final product is a graycovered document consisting of a series of recommended proposals. It is mailed to the board and then presented orally. Each item begins with an affirmative resolution (“As if the money all were voted, before the purposes were noted,”quipped a onetime trustee given to rhyme). This is followed by a comment on previous interest, if any, a general description, a financial estimate, and a section on future implications.
The effect of strong executive organization and good staff work, of course, is to leave the board under positive pressure to say yes. Dr. Harrar is not wholly content with this course. “These are tremendously busy men, but I want the benefit of their thinking,”he says.
The distant observer may begin to perceive what Nietzsche was driving at: “How much harder it is to give properly than to take properly.” Giving is a difficult art, more so when it is done with someone else’s money. Asked if he was having any fun, one Foundation officer replied a bit acidulously, “As an administrator, it should be possible to do a good job without having fun.”He referred to the fact that in making grants he does not have the opportunity of the scholar or scientist to make original observations and receive professional recognition for them. “The deepest satisfaction of my work,” remarks another officer, “is not so much in having the fancy ideas but having some avuncular relationship in the interplay of persons who tangle with the ideas. It is like being a witness. You can say, I saw it happen.’ ”
Thus, with the exception of laboratory or field work staffed by the Foundation itself, where, as in the case of Harrar, the man can see the results of his own efforts, the main job of a man representing a foundation is to help others be creative. Like the father of the bride, he pays the bill for somebody else’s wedding and keeps quiet about it. This sense of selflessness is taken very seriously.
In the past, the Foundation has limited its responsibility for public accounting mainly to long and detailed quarterly and annual reports. Otherwise, it has leaned over backward to avoid wide publicity. From 1913 on, the officers, debating the desirability of full publicity on the Foundation’s contributions, have been sharply divided, and have settled back to the position, “The less said about us the better.” “It isn’t that we were hiding anything,” explains Mr. Fosdick. “It is that we felt that we would be exaggerating the power of money.” There was nothing holier-than-thou about this aversion to self-acclaim. As we have already seen, it was not simply modesty for modesty’s sake — the poets always have regarded this as a dubious virtue — but a definite aid in getting a government to take up and carry on a Rockefeller-inspired program as its own and with full credit to it.
Another, quite selfish reason for avoiding publicity is that it leads to more requests for money and thus to more people to refuse. Nonetheless, the present trend is, at least tentatively, in the direction of recognizing an obligation not only to report to the public on disposition of funds but to educate the public on the value and uses of private philanthropy. The Rockefeller travelers observe, for instance, that many foreigners do not understand the meaning of philanthropy: Why, they ask. should anyone want to help a stranger? He is not a friend, and may turn out to be an enemy. They do not get the idea of love for mankind in the abstract.
The self-effacing stance of the individual Foundation officer is necessary but has some ambivalent aspects. Inescapably, all philanthropic foundations are self-appointed and therefore self-justifying organizations. The Rockefeller Foundation must record and reflect upon what it accomplishes with its money. Its officers can scarcely do so without feeling some pride. The effect is a curious one, a kind of restraint verging on smugness. The officers, all learned men and not unaware of such subtleties, are prone to combat complacence with self-criticism.
The one characteristic of the Foundation officer that may outweigh modesty is this soul-searching. If stomach ulcers are the psychosomatic disease of business executives, then soul-searching is the neurosis of the Foundation career man. Mr. Rusk explained why: “Officers and trustees must somehow come to terms with the haunting and elusive question as to whether funds might better be used in some other way.”
If there were an official uniform, it certainly would include a hair shirt. Questions such as Are we doing the right thing? and What should we be doing? are so continuously asked that an outsider, listening in, could easily convince himself that staff members themselves think their Foundation is in the clutches of muddled thinkers and chronic missers of boats. Such worries are ruminative and not final judgments, much less indictments, although they sometimes have fanned the flames of articles asking how solid foundations are or explaining where they fall down.
It is easier to report what a foundation has done than what it plans to do, other than more of the same but in different directions. The Rockefeller foundation goes to all dignified lengths to maintain what it conceives to be its greatest strength, flexibility. In truth, it would like to be all things to all people, at a time and place of its own choosing. In the last few years, it has undergone a major change of direction that, inquiry shows, some of its oldest friends — grantees — seem unaware of.
The change began with the board’s adoption of Mr. Rusk’s recommendation in 1956 that the Foundation give increased aid to newly independent or developing nations. In 1962 the Foundation, a longtime supporter of the finest and highest institutions of learning in America and Europe, sharpened the earlier decision by electing to throw a greater weight of its resources into developmental grants to selected universities and regional research institutes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. To be sure, the board stipulated that the shift of emphasis was to be accomplished without jeopardy to any irresistible American needs presenting themselves.
In order to protect the Foundation’s domestic philanthropic interests, the board authorized some use of capital as well as income. Commitment from principal has averaged $8 million annually since 1956. Nonetheless, the effect was marked. Historically, the Foundation has given five dollars in the United States for every three overseas; in 1962 the proportions were almost reversed.
The new policy represents the Foundation’s effort to grapple with a new reality. Traditionally, it has pursued the conviction that it should seek centers of excellence and build on strength. “Make the peaks higher” is the way old-timers put it —in other words, give mainly to the Harvards, Johns Hopkinses, Universities of Chicago, and so on, to train world leaders in teaching, research, and public affairs. Now, however, the Foundation is more interested in helping build some new peaks, if not in actually filling in the valleys. It recognizes the scarcity of native sons educated for leadership and seated not in Cambridge or Berkeley, New York or London, but in Léopoldville, Kampala, Vellore, Hyderabad, Cali, and hundreds of places where modern civilization stops at the city limits, if it has got that far.
We need not go into detail to recognize that this is chancy business, against staggering odds, involving both world and nationalist power struggles. Viewed in its totality, the task of promoting the well-being of mankind in equatorial Africa, for example, defies the average American’s imagination. The majority of the people there are at an economic, educational, and technological level close to that of the American Indian during the settling of the West. These developing nations are, in other words, a century or more behind Western civilization. Their problem of civilizing themselves is aggravated by the tendency of their populations to increase faster than agriculture and industry can improve food supply and per capita income. Direct transplantation of the American university’s highly specialized knowledge and techniques to Africa, one of the easier undertakings, only complicates the problem of meeting human needs, for there the requirement is for country doctors and country schoolteachers rather than for medical and political scientists. The Foundation’s African task force is fully aware of these questions and is looking for answers.
It would appear that the Foundation in its present course will have no trouble heeding the plea of Mr. Rockefeller at its fiftieth anniversary dinner that it be “more willing to risk criticism, even the possibility of failure.” and also fulfill “an obligation to make clear to the American public-from whom our franchise derives the role of foundations in a free society.” This role, unlike that of government or business, he said, is “to take such risks for good cause.”
Recently, the board of trustees described five areas in which the Foundation will concentrate its efforts, including an expanded interest in population control and a fresh interest in the American Negro’s bid for equality: “For the foreseeable future, then, the Foundation proposes to do what it can to work toward the provision of an adequate food supply for all. It will expand its efforts toward population stabilization. It will help in the training of promising individuals and the development of institutions where the lack of leadership retards progress. It will seek to advance equality of opportunity for all. And it will strive to contribute to man’s cultural development.”
What we find, in conclusion, is no more than the beginning of another long story. In the Foundation’s interests and efforts, its successes and failures, we find mirrored the crucial issues of civilization. The pressure of events has compelled the gentlemen and scholars of its staff to become more determined in their optimism, well knowing that nothing yet has been so fully and finally achieved as to alter the words of Walt Whitman: “It is provided in the very essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.”