March 29, 2020

Your wide-ranging and fascinating series on the American University in Bulgaria was most appreciated. But it also reminded me of the story American Lincoln used to tell about the man who was tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. “If it weren’t for the honor,” the man said, “I would rather have walked.”

You have captured much of the challenge and difficulty in establishing a new institution in a struggling society. But the tone, reflected in the headlines of “problems plaque” and “dissension wracks,” fails to capture the leadership that President Julie Watkins and many others, particularly in Maine and Bulgaria, are providing. It is as if a report on the Civil War headlined draft riots in New York City, dissension in the president’s Cabinet and the lack of good generals, rather than the significance of ending slavery and preserving the union.

With stories out of the Balkans of ethnic genocide, massive corruption, economic collapse and civil disorder, what a marvelous story of leadership in creating a democratic institution that is uniting people across the region. President Watkins and her colleagues deserve great credit for real leadership against staggering odds. Robert L. Woodbury Board chairman American University in Bulgaria Boston, Mass.

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