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University of Iowa News Release

March 21, 2006

UPDATED at 10:18 a.m. Feb. 22, 2006 with information about funeral services.

PHOTO: UI President Emeritus James O. Freedman, 1935-2006, courtesy of Dartmouth College. Click here for a high-resolution of the black-and-white image, or here for a high-resolution color photo.

UI Emeritus President Freedman Championed Liberal Arts Education, International Relations

James O. Freedman -- scholar, academic leader, champion of liberal arts education and 16th President of the University of Iowa -- died today, Tuesday, March 21 at the age of 70.

Freedman, UI president from 1982 to 1987 and more recently president emeritus of Dartmouth College, died at his home in Cambridge, Mass., after a long battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Freedman is survived by his wife, Bathsheba Freedman; their daughter Deborah, a managing attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia; their son, Jared, a partner with Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C.; and four grandchildren, Isaac, Jacob, Sasha and Noah.

A service for President Freedman will be held Thursday, March 23, at 11 a.m. at Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, Mass. Burial will be in Lindwood Memorial Park in Randolph, Mass. Shiva will be observed at the Freedman home Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. and Friday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may made to the Bathsheba A. Freedman Scholarship Fund at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College Gift Recording Office, 6066 Development Office, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755; the oncology department at Massachusetts General Hospital, in care of the Development Office, 165 Cambridge St., Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114; or the American Jewish Committee, 165 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022.

UI President David J. Skorton issued a statement Tuesday recalling Freedman's many contributions:

"We are all deeply saddened by the passing of James O. Freedman, who during his tenure as president of the University of Iowa from 1982 to 1987 established a legacy for our institution that continues with us today.

"President Freedman's intellectual leadership was among the strongest our University has ever seen. He was a thoughtful and eloquent man with an insatiable curiosity, a true scholar and voracious reader whose appetite for knowledge and understanding was unparalleled. President Freedman embodied the ideal and practice of a public intellectual, and he made an indelible stamp on The University of Iowa as an institution of higher learning that values excellence while remaining accessible to the people of our state and nation.

"Perhaps Jim Freedman's most important contribution to the UI was the vigor and dedication with which he championed the internationalization of our teaching, research, and service. A true visionary, President Freedman knew that international understanding was not only crucial to education and society at the time, but also that it was to become increasingly important to everyone in the decades to come. The presidents who came after him, including me, owe much of our own dedication to the international aspects of the UI to Jim Freedman's pioneering work and advocacy.

"In recent years, after his retirement from the presidency of Dartmouth College, President Freedman remained one of our country's most active, and fearless, public intellectuals, particularly in the cause of liberal education. He never forgot what the essence of education and an intellectual life should be in our lives and values, and he continued to champion humanistic thought. Today, I still look to Jim Freedman's life and work for model and inspiration as a leader, and I will continue to do so.

"As we mourn his loss, and as we share our grief with his family, loved ones, friends, and colleagues across the world, we should remain thankful that he was, and will remain, part of the UI family and legacy."

Freedman was Dartmouth's 15th president, serving from 1987 to 1998. In 1999, Freedman, who was also a distinguished professor of law and political science during his Iowa tenure, returned to the UI as the Mason Ladd Distinguished Visiting Professor to teach in the College of Law for the fall semester.

An article in the summer 1987 Dartmouth Alumni Magazine profiling Freedman upon his arrival there described him as an academic who could get along with faculty and, according to UI communications professor Samuel L. Becker, "administer in a collegial manner. He is an unbelievably good advocate of academic values -- the kind of values faculty believe in."

At Iowa, Freedman worked to maintain solidarity with the teaching staff. When half of the faculty failed to get raises mandated by the state legislature in 1985, he donated his own $1,900 hike to the UI Foundation, the Dartmouth magazine reported.

He also demonstrated great fundraising acumen while at Iowa. During a trip down the Mississippi River with a service club, Freedman spoke passionately about the need to nurture Asian-American relations. A member of the audience was so inspired he convinced his family to donate $2 million toward the creation in 1986 of a UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.

A world traveler who believed in the educational value of study abroad, Freedman created the Presidential Scholarship for Study Abroad at Iowa in 1983. Since then, the $1,000 scholarships that have helped hundreds of UI undergraduate students defray the cost of travel abroad.

Other accomplishments directly attributed to Freedman, or carried out during his tenure, include:

-- Establishment of the UI's largest-ever (as of 1987) fundraising campaign, an effort to raise $100 million in private contributions that was to be devoted entirely to an endowment for professorships and fellowships.

-- Inauguration of the Center for the Book, a program that combines book-binding, book conservation, paper-making, the history of the book and type design.

-- Establishment of an undergraduate scholar assistant program, in which outstanding students received credit and a stipend to conduct research with professors.

-- Revitalization of the Honors Program. Prior to Freedman's tenure, Iowa had not had a Rhodes Scholar in 15 years; two students received Rhodes Scholarships within three years of Freedman's taking office.

-- Worked out 42 exchange agreements with universities abroad.

-- Traveled to Indonesia, Austria, The People's Republic of China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Israel, Iceland, Italy and Germany to establish foreign exchange programs, confer on international education or participate in Iowa's outreach programs.

Randall Bezanson, UI professor of law and former vice president of

finance and university services from 1979 to 1985, described Freedman as a "remarkably intelligent, caring and gentle person. He provided wonderful intellectual leadership that left a lasting impact on the university."

A native of Manchester, N.H., Freedman received his A.B., cum laude, from Harvard in 1957 and his LL.B., cum laude, from Yale Law School.

From 1962 to 1963 he was a clerk to future U.S. Supreme Court Judge Thurgood Marshall, then on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After a brief time in practice with a New York law firm, Freedman became an assistant professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, where he rose to become dean of the school and remained until 1982.

He was an author of many essays, articles and publications, a great deal of them having to do with the value of liberal education, notably in 1996 his book "Idealism and Liberal Education" (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press), and his 2003 book "Liberal Education and the Public Interest (University of Iowa Press).

In fact, Freedman championed the cause of a liberal arts education whenever given the opportunity, including during a speech to members of Phi Beta Kappa that was excerpted in the spring 2000 issue of the UI publication Spectator. In that speech, Freedman extolled the virtues of a liberal education - not as a panacea to the world's ills but as a means for students to learn, in part, the "vivid ways in which science serves the powerful human aspiration for an ordered understanding of the universe."

Without such an understanding, Freedman argued, "citizens of a democracy can hardly make wise decisions about the social, political, and moral consequences of scientific achievement and technological development."

"...Even though liberal education is not perfect, it does have the redemptive potential to prepare us for both the glories and exhilarations of life as well as for its ironies and perplexities," he added. "It has the capacity to enable us, as I have argued, to see the world clearly and steadily, to be conscious of the desirability of qualifying what we say with the word 'perhaps,' to think deeply about the large questions of organizing our communal life, to understand the implications of scientific achievement, and to be whole and humane human beings."

More information on Freedman's legacy is available at the following Websites:,0,3926514.story?coll=ny-region-apconnecticut

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,