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Collection on Robert McFarlane -William A. Kern Professor in Communications

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0539

Scope and Contents

Collection on Robert McFarlane - William A. Kern Professor in Communications contains eight audiocassette recordings of the speeches of Robert McFarlane who visited RIT on October 22, 1986; January 14-15, 1987; and April 8, 1987. As Kern Distinguished Lecturer for 1986-87, McFarlane details American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union, discusses the arms race and defends President Reagan's Star Wars proposal.

The collection also includes extensive correspondence among faculty and staff of the Communications Department of the College of Liberal Arts about the lectures, extensive clippings from newspapers across the country, articles from RIT News and Events, Reporter magazine, and the RIT Journalist and some background information about the Kern Program.


  • Creation: 1984-1987


Biographical Information: Robert McFarlane

Robert McFarlane graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1959 and also holds a M.A. degree from the Graduate Institute in Geneva Switzerland. In 1979, Mr. McFarlane retired after twenty years as a Marine Officer. He began his work with the National Security Council in 1973 when he was appointed Executive Assistant to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger. From October 1983 to late December 1985 Mr. McFarlane held the position of National Security Advisor. In 1986, he is was a member of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

During the academic year 1986-87, Mr. McFarlane was the William A. Kern Professor in Communications in the College of Liberal Arts at RIT. He conducted three public lectures titled Crucial Issues in Contemporary Foreign Policy. The former National Security Advisor was a key player in the Iran-Contra Affair who tried to take his own life allegedly over the scandal. His visits caused some controversy and demonstration amongst students at RIT because of this. McFarlane was an associate of then RIT President Richard Rose. The Iran Contra Affair story broke shortly after his first visit in October of 1986. By the time he returned in January 1987, he attracted a large amount of attention. He declined to have any media at his event, not even press coverage for the student publicationReporter. He did, however, agree to an interview with one RIT student, Steven Freeman, who was granted permission to interview him after writing to McFarlane. A budding photojournalist, Steven was allowed to photograph McFarlane and spend 30 minutes discussing national security, the press and his visit to RIT.

The William A. Kern Professorship in Communications was established as an endowment by the Rochester Telephone Company to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the company and to provide a memorial for Mr. Kern, former company president who served as an RIT trustee from 1959 to 1964. The purpose of the endowment is to provide instruction and research into contemporary communication issues.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 oversize box and 1 small fliptop box)




A collection of eight audiocassette tapes documenting the speeches of Robert McFarlane who visited RIT in 1986 and twice in 1987 as the William A. Kern Professor in Communications. Also included in the collection is correspondence, clippings, and articles about his lectures.


Materials are arranged by series.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Speeches are on audiocassette tapes. An audiocassette player is required to listen to them.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 243

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Collection on Robert McFarlane

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection on Robert McFarlane - William A. Kern Professor in Communications was deposited to the RIT Archive Collections in June 2005 by RIT professor and historian Dane Gordon.

Accession number(s): 2005:015

Related Materials

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in December 2014.

Collection on Robert McFarlane - William A. Kern Professor in Communications
RIT Archives
Jody Sidlauskas
2 December 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA