THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
the Deep BenchIn her April President’s Views column, “Building the Deep Bench,” Ambassador
Barbara Stephenson estimates that lead-
ers are produced roughly in accordance
with the following “rule of thumb”: 70
percent on-the-job experience, 20 percent
mentoring and 10 percent formal training.
It would be interesting to delve more
deeply into the mentoring component
of the foregoing formula. For example,
is “mentoring” a formal component of
a supervisory FSO’s job description? In
other words, does it actually take place?
Furthermore, is the deputy chief of
mission (or USAID’s equivalent) at post
responsible for ensuring that junior FSOs
are properly mentored by their supervi-
sors, or even occasionally by the chief of
mission? Just as importantly, is feedback
on the adequacy of their mentoring expe-
rience actively solicited from junior FSOs?
Without such formal mentoring desig-
nations and responsibilities, and an effec-
tive feedback loop, the early on-the-job
experiences of first- and second-tour FSOs
may amount to little more than an implied
edict to “sink or swim!”
SFS USAID, retired
Sun City Center, Florida
Universities for Africa
I greatly appreciated Don Lotter’s April
article on the need to help Africa develop
its university system as a better way todevelop the continent in general (“Devel- opment Aid to Africa: Time for Plan B?”).
During my 20-plus years of service in
Africa at eight posts, I was continuously
frustrated by our ever-changing develop-
ment policies and priorities.
The only constant was that Africa was
forever developing, but never quite getting
to “developed”—despite the countless
Western experts and consultants who
were there to show the way. Since retiring
from State I’ve now spent 13 years at Texas
Tech as vice provost administering inter-
national programs, and I heartily endorse
most of Lotter’s points.
The best example I can offer is Ethio-
pia—once the poster child for the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse—a country
where I served twice and still visit every
few years to help establish partnerships
between American and Ethiopian univer-
When I arrived there as ambassa-
dor in 1999, the literacy numbers were
abysmal—especially for girls. Thanks to
a national policy that first promoted pri-
mary education, and later extended that
to high school, current estimates are that
more than 50 percent of women and two-
thirds of men can now read and write.
Ethiopia is now undertaking an even
more ambitious campaign to go to the
next level: building from scratch a network
of universities across the country. In 2000
Ethiopia had just three national universi-
ties—today it has 31, and the country
is spending more than a quarter of its
national budget on education.
But while Ethiopia is graduating thou-
sands with B.A. degrees, they desperately
need M.A. and Ph.D. degree-holders to
serve as faculty in their new universities.
This is where U.S. universities can
help—by establishing partnerships with
Ethiopian universities to collaborate on
degree programs (here, there and by dis-
tance), faculty training, curriculum design
and academic management.
Also appealing is the idea of helping
establish U.S.-style universities across
Africa. For example, a first-rate compre-
hensive university to serve the Horn of
Africa, one that conferred U.S.-quality
degrees on students from the region,
would be a positive force in many ways.