Rasmussen, Erik - Oral History Interview
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Erik Rasmussen 69 was always interested in International Affairs and majored in History as an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. For graduate school, he applied to the London School of Economics, Fletcher and SAIS. He chose SAIS over Fletcher because of the Washington location and the resources available in the area. He remembers the Canadian Embassy being right down the road at that time. He also went to SAIS to stay one step ahead of his draft board (educational deferment). SAIS offered a good mix of people who had come from various backgrounds (e.g. military, business, etc.). He thought SAIS to be quite difficult, but that it was a great learning experience. He felt privileged for the experience. When he graduated, his focus was International Economics, European Affairs and American Foreign Policy. He fondly recalls the student interaction, the varied backgrounds of the students (he had a friend from Ghana), access to the guest lecturers, the informal times (the lounge in the basement it was where the locker room is now and they used to listen to Walter Cronchite) and the professors (e.g. Frank Isaiah, David Calleo, Sam Brown and Edmond Stilman they were a wide range of experts and interested him in areas to which he had not been exposed). The dean at the time was Dean Wilcox. Robert Osgood also became dean right around that same time both were highly regarded. He took French at SAIS (remembers being in the language lab and taking the Orals) and does still use it. After he graduated, Erik lost his deferment and so he took steps to enlist in the Army Intelligence which was a step up from being drafted in the infantry. He was granted a physical deferment. He was in Baltimore at the time and he had just gotten married (his wife was at the Homewood campus getting an MA in teaching). He did not pass the Foreign Service exam the first time, but knew that he still wanted to stay in the field, so he looked for a job on the hill, working for a Congressman, and ended up working with Lee Hamilton. He kept this job for seven years. At the time, he was interested in energy issues as energy was a hot topic. As such, he went to the Energy Department (at the Congressional Affairs Office) and worked there for several years ago. About six years ago, he moved into the Energy Information Administration and he has been doing outreach work for them ever since (in the realm of International Energy Issues) and very much enjoys it. He is soon approaching retirement and wants time to take classes again, but has no specific agenda. For students, he recommends that they be able to express themselves (though oral and written communication skills) and to network as much as they can. He ended the interview by sharing a memory of being at SAIS during the riots of 1968 and being in the library looking over 14th Street at the time.