Roberta M. Baumgartner : Interview for the John W. Gardner Legacy Oral History Project
- Type of resource
- Place of creation
- Stanford (Calif.) : Stanford Historical Society
- April 04, 2018
- Digital origin
- born digital
- 1 text file
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Item belongs to a collection
The John W. Gardner Legacy Oral History Project, which began in early 2017, is sponsored by the Haas Center for Public Service, the Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program, the John W. Gardner Center for Youth & Their Communities, the Gardner Family Trust, and the Stanford University Libraries Special Collections & University Archives. With the transfer of 100+ linear feet of John W. Gardner’s papers from the Gardner home to Stanford University Libraries Special Collections in late 2016, the project sponsors launched an oral history initiative to capture recollections of Gardner and reflections on his life from people who knew him well. The project includes interviews with people who knew Gardner in various capacities, including as colleagues, students, mentees, friends, and family members.
- Digital collection
- 37 digital items
Roberta M. “Bobbi” Baumgartner, who is retired from her work as an executive assistant at Stanford University, served as John W. Gardner’s personal assistant from 1990 to 1997 at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the School of Education. She discusses her connection to Stanford growing up and the development of her close working relationship with Gardner. She recounts different aspects of working for him and her memories of him as an employer, mentor, teacher, author, public figure, and family man.
- Roberta M. “Bobbi” Baumgartner, who is retired from her work as an executive assistant at Stanford University, served as John W. Gardner’s personal assistant from 1990 to 1997 at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the School of Education. She discusses her connection to Stanford growing up and the development of her close working relationship with Gardner. She recounts different aspects of working for him and her memories of him as an employer, mentor, teacher, author, public figure, and family man. Baumgartner gives a detailed account of Gardner’s day-to-day work style. She describes the reading he did and his approach to speech writing, meetings, correspondence, and travel. Other topics covered are his teaching, mentoring, and consulting methods, and his “hobby” of quotation collecting, which sometimes included making up his own quotes and attributing them to a pseudonym. Baumgartner also mentions the many demands on Gardner’s time from those interested in leadership, personal renewal, and community building. She touches on their shared experience of growing up in Southern California, the sense of trust that he had in her, and the relationship she developed with his wife Aida and his children and grandchildren. Gardner’s assistance with and gracious support for her subsequent career move was invaluable and reflected his respect for women and their capabilities. According to Baumgartner, Gardner paced himself more in the latter years of their time working together due to physical issues, but not being a fan of retirement, he actively continued researching, writing, reading, and taking meetings. Baumgartner describes Gardner as a visionary--brilliant and positive--who saw possibilities in everything. She also observes that he was a great communicator and put much thought into mentoring the next generation. She expresses her hope that people will read about him and learn from him through this oral history initiative and, at some point, his yet-to-be written biography.
- Biographical profile
- Baumgartner retired in June 2015 after her career as an executive assistant at Stanford University. She began working at Stanford in January 1990 as assistant to John W. Gardner, former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Baumgartner assisted Mr. Gardner at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and School of Education until June 1997. She then moved to Stanford’s Office of Development and served as executive assistant to John B. Ford, Vice President for Development, until his retirement in May 2008. At that time she became assistant to B. Howard Pearson, Senior Philanthropic Advisor and Development Legal Counsel. Since her retirement in 2015, Baumgartner has worked at temporary assignments at Stanford. Baumgartner is a native Californian and has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area since graduating from UC Irvine in 1971. She lives with her husband in Redwood City and has two adult children and one grandchild.
- Finding Aid
- John W. Gardner Legacy Oral History Project (SC1355)
- Stanford University. Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
- Use and reproduction
- The materials are open for research use and may be used freely for non-commercial purposes with an attribution. For commercial permission requests, please contact the Stanford University Archives (firstname.lastname@example.org).