Hollick, Ann - Oral History Interview

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What originally brought Dr. Hollick to SAIS was the statement by John F. Kennedy, “Think what you can do for your country”. She was at Berkeley majoring in 16th century English literature planning to become a professor of English literature and she thought “Oops, I better think about what I can do for my country”. With the launch of Sputnik, there was no graduate school money available for the humanities anyway so she quickly looked about and found that she could happily switch to a career in international affairs and do something for her country. Since she had studied German as an English literature major and already had French and had Spanish as a native language, SAIS was persuaded she could handle the career shift. She was happy to choose SAIS over Columbia because she thought the two year program would be an advantage to prepare herself for a career shift of that magnitude. She was born in Panama and when came to the US, she realized there was a great deal of variety out there and it was natural for her to think in terms of international affairs. Kennedy was a great motivator for all in that era and with the Vietnam War, people were thinking more globally. She remembers the air conditioning system that didn’t quite work at SAIS. It was the new building and they were having a hard time adjusting it, but once it was adjusted, President Kennedy was assassinated. She was living at the international student house 2 blocks from SAIS and the entire country was plunged into mourning. She began to ask herself, “What am I doing here?”. It was a very shocking time. The faculty was very supportive and very diverse so finding her way through SAIS was a good experience. She was complemented regularly on the fact that she did not use jargon at SAIS. She never told the faculty that she did not know jargon. She was simply going to rely on her English. She did all of the required courses. She did one year at SAIS. She then took off to do one year in Sri Lanka with the US Educational Foundation and then came back to finish up. She took all of the required examinations during that time. SAIS had not changed too much from the time she entered in 1963 to the time she left in 1966, but the air conditioning was certainly working and that was a great plus. She was so comfortable with SAIS that she resolved when she went on with her graduate work that she would go to Homewood as an extension of SAIS because SAIS was not at that time comfortable with PhD students. It was an easy transition for her and a way to keep SAIS, in a sense, as her base. She says that it is always a vivid experience when some catastrophic event occurs. Being in Washington at the time (of Kennedy’s assassination) was particularly traumatic…She was in the student house with her other dorm mates watching when Lee Harvey Oswald committed the second assassination. That was two blocks from SAIS. Within the school itself, she and colleagues went into a state of mourning. But classes proceeded and things went on. It was Washington itself that was memorable for her. The city basically shut down and she participated in her first national funeral. Paul Linebarger was a constant delight for her. There were lots of very interesting people, including students from Bologna. She got to like just about all of her classmates and she came back to teach at SAIS. Robert Osgood was her mentor from SAIS who became her dissertation advisor. She intentionally connect the two—SAIS and Homewood. Her career has been in government, both in Congress and in the Executive Branch, as well as academia. She has basically a three-part career…In Washington, the era was such that the most interesting jobs appeared in the area of Vietnam. She was working in the Library of Congress when she was offered a position with Senator Fulbright to run the Pentagon Papers hearing. That was a very memorable opportunity for her to interview the leaders who were engaged in the Vietnam War. It took her away from her area of expertise, which at Homewood had evolved to Ocean Policy. She found that Senator Fulbright was looking for someone who was not known for their stand on the Vietnam War. Her credentials were perfect in that regard because she was an expert on ocean policy and not on the Vietnam War. She had a wonderful experience putting together the hearings with Senator Fulbright. She says that Senator Fulbright was very clear that these should be a lesson in history so that future generations could use the history and that they would not be biased in the way they approached the hearings. It was very exciting for her to interview people like Bob McNamara when she was freshly out of school. She then moved into the Executive Branch—Treasury Department and State Department. She felt very fortunate for all of the opportunities she had in both places. Having been moved from being an expert on ocean polity to an expert on Vietnam, she was moved to a position with Ambassador Tom Pickering and she ran his planning office, which was good for her as a broadening experience. The name of his bureau was Oceans, Environment and Scientific Affairs. She says they were under constant harassment from Congress at the time for their work in those areas. She learned about the culture in the Executive Branch; the culture in the State Department. One of the things that was really noticeable to her was that you have to be able to transform yourself when you move from agency to agency. In the Treasury Department, she says that George Schultz was very easy to work with. In the State Department, a much larger operation, you had to find your way through the hierarchy and find good people to work with –some were better than others. But she says it was a very welcoming environment, in fact, for people like her who like thoughtful work. As evidenced by recent revelations of the diplomatic correspondents, she says there is an emphasis in the State Department on reporting and information sharing. She then went back into academia when the opportunity presented itself. She never became a Foreign Service Officer—she always stayed with the Civil Service which meant she was brought in as a Senior Executive Service Officer but she resolved to try to work in the State Department fashion (which was to move every 2 years), allowing her to become an expert over and over in different areas with a very steep learning curve at the beginning of the assignment…The State Department was good at accommodating her even though she wasn’t a Foreign Service Officer. One of her most rewarding experiences was working with Ambassador Pickering during the Iraq War. Ambassador Pickering was the US-UN rep and she was in charge of his Washington office. It was a constant problem and delight for her to gather information on what was going on in Iraq and to share that with her boss in New York and to manage the US-UN office in Washington and connect it, with all of the ambassadors in New York, to the Washington scene. That was a true challenge for her but she believes Pickering is always a great person to work for. She felt she chose her boss well and he was formerly briefed and formerly informed every step of the way. On the whole, she found the State Department to be a very, very good place for someone who had trained at SAIS. They accept your ability to learn quickly and that fit in well with her SAIS experience. She says it is great fun to work on Africa. She did at one point become an African specialist and as an officer who specializes in African affairs, she will tell you that it was a delightful time flying over rhinoceros, traveling to Victoria Falls and doing the things that needed to be done to help with the AID program. If you plan to work in Congress, she states that it is really important to choose your committee and senior boss. But she feels the State Department has a culture that is pretty solid and that the Treasury Department does as well. Highly qualified people are in the Department of Treasury—one will not always find that on Capitol Hill in her opinion. She also recommends that anyone who goes to SAIS know what they want and what their areas of expertise are and try to find people who are congenial to be able to make a contribution and excel. She personally finds it refreshing to move from being a practitioner to a scholar/teacher. Her friend Joe Nye, who came in to be a Deputy Secretary of State, arrived from Harvard never having worked for the government but having written many books. She remembers watching him in his first days in Washington and watching him get up to speed. She realized how much it helped her as a scholar and as a practitioner to have both experiences. She watched Secretary Nye learn very quickly what needed to be done. She encourages people who have the opportunity who are working in the government to spend some time out and for people who are working in academia to spend some time in government so that they understand both sides of the equation. She could not have had a better experience as an academic. She has published a number of books which was always rewarding because you get to go into things in great depth. She still goes to conferences with colleagues from former periods of time. She says that in academia you learn a totally different way of looking at the world than when you are in the government on the front line. She remembers sitting in a conference room where she was asked the question, “What does the State Department think about blah?”. She was coming as an academic to this meeting for this first time and she remembers evaluating that question. She was the “State Department” in the room with a bunch of scientists and what-not. She was shocked at being asked the question and asked to represent the State Department. Her first reaction was that the State Department is a large, gray building—it doesn’t think anything. She kept that to herself though, thought carefully and came forward with a position that made perfect sense. She was gratified to report that the scientists were happy to have such a reasoned position from the “State Department”. She thinks that is the hardest thing about shifting from academia into government—you are expected to think like an agency, you are expected to imagine that you are a policy position—and then it’s really fun and you can be creative and make things up, which is what you want to do and do it well. Her academic career includes publications—Princeton University Press, Hopkins Press, etc. She taught at SAIS, MIT, National Defense University and Joint Military Intelligence College. She’s been able to move around and each of these was a refreshing experience that gave her the opportunity to publish. She would recommend, if you’re going into a government career, to take sabbaticals, refresh yourself and tune yourself up. She says there used to be a great program at the State Department—she doesn’t think it exists anymore—called the Senior Seminar where you are obliged to spend a year thinking and traveling around with members from other agencies. She learned a lot about other agencies during that one year…She hopes that SAIS students will consider the culture at each agency and where they fit in best in terms of their personality and their mindset. One of her most interesting careers was to be morphed into a trade expert. The officer who was due to become the Trade officer for the State Department was suddenly reassigned overseas at the last minute because her husband was going to be the ambassador overseas so Dr. Hollick was chosen to become head of the Trade Office. She agreed and then learned about trade but basically walked into the subject cold. She says this is something that happens to most Foreign Service officers who start to read cable traffic. She had to learn in trading about exotic, esoteric things (hammered nails, water beds) because the State Department deals with everything. She remembers one meeting they had where they were trying to decide how they were going to punish the Europeans and it was insane! They were at the office of the trade representative and there was that “wonderful, little Belgium”, who is one of the least harmful countries and you’re trying to decide what retaliatory measures you’re going to levy on these countries for some particular trade infraction. She says it’s truly an exciting career to stay in international affairs and if you move, it gets even more exciting because you end up in situations that are just bizarre. The endive is the principal export of Belgium. She had not known that but she says that if you want to affect Belgium policy, you need to know things like that and what the principal exports are…All of these sorts of things become part of your portfolio as a State Department officer if you’re working in the international trade area…She cannot say enough about the diligence, intelligence and ability of the Foreign Service officer to get quickly up to speed. Dr. Hollick’s MIT students were the most challenging. They were amazing and always thought out of the box—they would ask the most probing and stimulating questions. She loved the officers who are in re-training like at the Joint Military Intelligence College because they are very diligent government officers who are trying to broaden themselves--she could do some fun things there but they are very different. She believes that where you go to school reflects where you come from. If you’re in a government re-training university, you’re in a very different situation than if you’re an undergraduate at MIT…She’s never taught at her undergraduate alma mater, Berkeley, but she bets that would be like MIT, very challenging. She mentioned a bit about her career on Capitol Hill with the time she spent on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (not recorded), which was exciting. She then had really calm work at the Library of Congress. She says there are a lot of opportunities there—it depends on your senator, your congressman, and the committee. She’s watching how these committees are changing now over time. She’s not sure that she would want to work on Capitol Hill because when she was there, there was a very strong bi-partisan effort and every committee had a clear understanding that members worked as a group…From what she gathers now, that national consciousness of the nation’s interests is not prevalent. As a SAIS student, she would recommend being very careful about whom you’re working for and what the mission is of the committee, the congressman and how comfortable you would feel with that. In general, when you work at an agency, you also want to know about your own comfort level with what they are doing, but, she says, this is especially true on the Hill. She says that the Library of Congress is a very nice place to work if you have an academic bent…They allow you to work indirectly for congressmen who need information quickly, but of a general sort. Dr. Hollick says that the students at SAIS continue to be excellent. She is happy to work with them, as she continues to do, on the SAIS Review. She thinks that the world they are moving into is very different than the world she moved into. At the point of her graduation, the United States was the pre-eminent country/power and there was a lot of reward in going into a career in government because you had influence not only in this country’s foreign policy but you had influence around the world as well. That is no longer true now and students can no longer expect to be making global policy. If students are willing to be comfortable with shaping US policy she believes that there are still a lot of rewards out there. She suggests choosing your agency carefully and knowing who the secretary at any point in time is going to be because the head of an agency makes a big difference. She would caution every student to know themselves, know where they are likely to fit. If a student is interested in business, she states there are many opportunities out there in international business, especially if they have an Asian orientation. But she also thinks it’s always good to be flexible because over a career of 40 years, you may have to shift—the economy may change, the government will change. You want to be prepared to do different things. That can be refreshing but it’s also wise to be prepared. Her memories of SAIS are excellent, fond and wonderful. She still enjoys her interactions there. She thinks the students there should make the most of Washington while at SAIS in addition to the faculty, who are very amenable to student involvement. She also recommends taking advantage of the think tanks that are all around SAIS, engaging with organizations, getting internships and creating a network.
Library of Congress, Linebarger, Paul, MIT, SAIS, Pentagon Papers hearing, Schultz, George, SAIS Review, Treasury Department, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, State Department, Kennedy, John F., Vietnam War, Iraq War, Pickering, Thomas R., Berkeley, Joint Military Intelligence College, National Defense University, Nye, Joseph, Homewood, Fulbright, J. William, McNamara, Robert, Osgood, Robert