Stories from Our Community

Condoleezza Rice, 66th U.S. Secretary of State

The Josef Korbel School of International Studies is named after its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel. A renowned scholar and diplomat, Dr. Korbel was also the father of Madeleine Albright, 64th U.S. Secretary of State.

A star pupil of Josef Korbel's went on to become the 66th U.S. Secretary of State. Condoleezza Rice considered Korbel her mentor and the reason she decided to make a dramatic change in her academic studies and pursue a career in public service.

Dr. Rice began her studies at the University of Denver with the intention of becoming a concert pianist. After deciding that was not her path, in her junior year she enrolled in an international relations class taught by Dr. Korbel. "I remember the exact lecture that won me over," she recalled. "It was one about how Josef Stalin had consolidated his power, first isolating the right-wing forces, isolating the left-wing forces...(and I thought) 'This is just terrific, this is what I want to study.' I said 'Dr. Korbel, I think I'd like to study the Soviet Union.'"

She went on to receive her PhD from the Korbel School (then known as the Graduate School of International Studies) in 1981.

Listen to this NPR interview to hear Dr. Rice's reflections on Josef Korbel and on how her time at our school prepared her for her career in public service.