John Hennessy discusses his tenure as president of Stanford University and how he helped make it into an elite school: encouraging technological innovation on campus, working on ideas that push humankind forward and maintain academic excellence, and having one of the best athletic programs in the country. Hennessy notes that one key to Stanford’s success is building quality infrastructure around interdisciplinary themes in a cross-disciplinary space, making it possible to fire up smart people and challenge them with colleagues from varied backgrounds to develop innovative ideas and solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.
James Buckley discusses his life and upbringing as well as the genesis of Firing Line and the success of his brother Bill. James describes Bill as a fresh spirit who wanted to meet all types of people and listen to different viewpoints. Bill loved a good debate. James notes that his parents were literate and that education and speaking well were important. They trained their children to work hard, be genteel, and listen to the other side. James notes that we make progress in society, such as during the Reagan years, if someone can demonstrate the causes and effects of socialist-type policies so that people are more apt to understand, embrace, and thrive in the free market. James ends by saying that although we may become pessimistic about the American experiment, hope is always around the corner because virtue and good sense reside in the people.