Third Part - 18th December 2008

0:09:07 I was asked by the President of Yale whether I would consider being Director of the Peabody Museum; I refused as at that time our children were young; I was asked to serve on the search committee and spent two years describing to various candidates why this was a wonderful job; I completely internalized my own rhetoric so after two years, having failed to persuade anyone, the President asked me again; I took it and loved the job; a natural history museum at this juncture in history with new technologies allows one to capture then share information; I was at the Peabody at the moment when the collections manager was telling me that it was impossible to capture in an electronic digital form the nuance and detail of the collection; within a year they had undergone a complete transformation; we had 18,000,000 accessioned objects and it was supposed to take decades; by the time I left after three and a half years, because they were completely fired up to do this it was happening at the speed of light; that made the Peabody collections available around the world; for what is going on environmentally around the world, to have an historical record going back 150-200 years, allows you to see environmental change from another perspective; objects in a natural history museum can be "read" in profoundly different ways as technologies evolve; being able to extract DNA from fossilized and sub-fossil material gives you a whole new meaning of what are in the objects; it is a very exciting time where traditions dating back to the cabinet of curiosities intersect with modern technologies; university museums also have a responsibility to the larger public by way of exhibitions; problems of how to display and how to stimulate debate; made for me a rich experience so when the President asked me to serve as Provost I really did not want to do it as we were reorganizing the Museum

7:30:04 Cambridge has no visitor centre like Oxford; it was under discussion when I arrived here to put such a centre in King's Parade; I am sympathetic to the idea but it is hard to decide who it would be for; I think that Cambridge is hard to visit in a serious way; tourism is an unresolved issue for Cambridge; the blue badge guides do brilliantly, but you cannot invite tourists into departments or even parts of colleges; my scepticism when I arrived with the vision presented to me was coupled to the sense that there are so many needs here and this would not go to the top of the list; our museums have so little dedicated funding and it would not be right to take money from them for such a scheme; I worry when I think things can only get tougher; of the fundamental proposition, I think Cambridge is an inimitable place; could do a virtual tour for tourists before they walked round - its time will come

14:37:03 I did become Provost of Yale; it was a very hard job; the division of labour was that the President had prime responsibility for setting general strategic directions for the outside world and the Provost's task was the day to day running of the academic and administrative activities within the University, building the operations and capital budgets; we worked together and I would never have done anything major without consulting with him; looking back at Yale with all its wealth, one wonders how it could have been a tough job; I became Provost in 1994 when we were running a $20,000,000 deficit and my first task was to figure out whether we could save money to bring the budget back into balance; we did succeed in no small measure because the Yale endowment grew so rapidly; however academics are always imagining new and wonderful ways of using money before it has even quite materialized; the aspirations and ambitions of the institution will, and should, outstrip the available means; worked on the institutional policies of Yale for eight and a half years, and had practice for Cambridge's 800th anniversary from having Yale's 300th anniversary in 2001; they  were very interesting years; financial difficulties are breaking over US universities at the moment as their endowments plunge, and our turn will come

20:19:15 When I was first approached about this job at Cambridge I said that I had no interest in it; however, when I was offered it I had no difficulty in accepting it; in between, after refusing to have anything to do with it over a period of several months I was then persuaded by my husband and daughters, and by the indomitable Tony Badger who was chairing the search committee, that I should go over for one day; I came to Cambridge for a day and was far from persuaded; then I came back and forth over the course of an autumn and met members of the search committee and others; I fell in love with Cambridge again so by the time I was offered the position I was clear that this was an irresistible combination of a great university but with all kinds of challenges; I thought my experience at Yale could be helpful to Cambridge; also I had met people here who had impressed me deeply by their wisdom and thoughtfulness, and by their ambition for there to be change at Cambridge; that was my frame of mind in December 2002; work with senior administrators and academics heads of departments, but also with enthusiasts at lower levels, on policy or new installations, through discussion and revision; it takes time at Cambridge but because people have been involved it is imbedded and becomes part of the fabric of the place; there are frustrations, but I have come to feel that the way that we do things is far more defensible than I probably thought during the first year that I was here

27:46:00 Delighted that Cambridge is recognised as a place of great and broad strengths, but it is not all fine; there are things that other institutions do better and I am wary of triumphalism; Cambridge has transformed the way the world works, transformed the way it thinks, contributed to a degree that is staggering, but it has not been doing so steadily throughout its history; there have been bad patches; one of the things that interests me is how it is that Cambridge emerges from the bad patches to become truly great all over again; when I am no longer Vice-Chancellor and have the time I am interested to understand this; there were far fewer universities for much of our history so there was not as much competition; I believe that the relative autonomy of universities in this country for much of their history has been enormously important; I think that today people confuse autonomy with receipt of public funding; they are not the same; it is possible to receive public funding and have a high level of autonomy; think that as we become more and more relevant to society, as we are perceived to be, the temptation of society to try to get its hands into this activity will grow; I have not encountered anywhere a will to undo the autonomy of universities and I take government to be a proxy for society at large; I think being a beautiful place is important; the colleges provide a scale so the university can be both big and small at the same time; that has been part of its configuration from the earliest days; you also have to manage to attract extraordinary people into this free, nurturing environment; I don't think that Cambridge went out and recruited people in the way we do now; I don't know how that process worked in the past; as important as the people we attract are those we send forth; debateable whether the academics are more important for their thoughts or the students that are educated here; much is done spontaneously with little attachment to the university, but which people feel passionately about; I have often been asked the secret of Cambridge's success and I am trying to understand why, when most institutions don't survive,  universities have done; they are very different organizations from most others;  mere survival would be remarkable, but here we are at the dawn of the 21st century, a splendid university; this still needs explanation

40:02:22 My term ends 30th September 2010; I plan to get my life back and do a lot of things that I have not done for fifteen years; I have continued going to Madagascar throughout these years but for painfully short periods of time; there  is a mass of data that my colleagues and I have been collecting covering many aspects of life and environment there, so a twenty-five year history of a community; not sure whether there is material for a serious work, but I am attracted to doing that; however, I don't want to do just one thing full time; I am interested in trying to understand the longevity and success of Cambridge too; I am a gardener, but have no time for it and have gardeners to do the Vice-Chancellor's garden; I am looking forward to gardening again and cooking for friends; I enjoy doing such things with my husband and there is not enough of that life to enjoy with him; it is the rebalancing in our lives that I a really looking forward to; however, I don't want to think about the future as I am focussed on Cambridge now, and the rightness of this 800th anniversary at a time of great tumult; I had worried as anniversaries can be such a dreadful, self-congratulatory wallow; I never thought that Cambridge would do that, but then one wonders what is the point; I actually believe that it will be a very seriously affirmative activity over the course of this coming year when so much is uncertain in the world, and yet Cambridge persists; I am seriously excited at this point over that and it has got all my attention; also managing through whatever storms will come our way, as there surely will be; Cambridge is not immune to what is going on in the world and all our revenue streams will probably be hit; it is going to be tough, but we will survive

Postscript 13th March 2009

48:12:09 Importance of daughters, Bessy and Charlotte, in our lives