For the fourth time in 44 years, the School of Foreign Service is in the process of searching for a new dean.
University President John J. DeGioia appointed a group of 17 professors, students and other university officials in early fall to make recommendations of candidates for the deanship. DeGioia chose members to represent a variety of university interests and strengths. The group, known as the Executive Search Committee, has begun reviewing applications after the application deadline formally closed Nov. 20. after opening in early fall.
Currently, a period of confidentiality is in place to protect the privacy of high-profile candidates. Members of the search committee declined to comment on the number of applicants and their criteria.
Search Committee Chair and SFS government professor Angela Stent, who chaired the search for the SFS dean in 2010, spoke about the committee’s process during a Nov. 24 meeting with SFS students in which students voiced their opinion about what qualities the new dean should embody.
“What we’re doing right now is collecting names,” Stent said. “And then what we do as a committee is we will meet in a couple of weeks, and we narrow down a list of maybe 15 to 20 people.”
According to a Leadership Profile put out by Witt/Kieffer, the recruiting and consulting firm managing the search, applicants submitted their applications by Nov. 20. Witt/Kieffer declined to comment on the search process.
Interim SFS Dean James Reardon-Anderson temporarily took over the deanship in November 2013 after former Carol Lancaster was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Lancaster, who died Oct. 22 at the age of 72, formally submitted her resignation in April. Lancaster’s original term would have been set to expire in summer 2015, and, before her illness, she had stated that she would not seek to renew her contract, desiring a return to academia.
While the search for a permanent dean continues, Reardon-Anderson said that he has been running the day-to-day operations of the SFS, such as fundraising and balancing budgets. He has also begun to prepare staff for changes the new dean may make.
“With respect to serving as interim dean, my strategy is twofold,” Reardon-Anderson said. “One is to keep the operation of the school going at the highest possible level … and then secondly to prepare the school in the best possible shape for the new dean, whoever that person might be.”
Although Lancaster previously served as interim dean, replacing Robert Gallucci, before being named permanent dean, Reardon-Anderson declined to comment as to whether he is being considered for the deanship on grounds of confidentiality. Previously Reardon-Anderson served as the first dean of the SFS campus in Qatar, from 2005 to 2009.
Provost Robert Groves said that the university hopes to announce the Executive Search Committee’s choice for dean by the end of spring semester, which would allow the new dean to begin by July 1, 2015.
“There is a period of confidentiality in part because not everyone who is applying for the position would like it to be widely known that they’re applying,” Reardon-Anderson said. “Almost all of these people are currently in other jobs. They may not want to reveal at this point that they’re looking elsewhere.”
During the last SFS dean search five years ago, Josh Rogin, a reporter for Foreign Policy, broke a story that James Steinberg, the then-deputy secretary of state under Hillary Clinton was being considered for the post. Since then, Stent said confidentiality is of the utmost priority.
“We don’t want any more articles in Foreign Policy magazine. We don’t want Josh Rogin to break another story like he did last time,” Stent said during the Nov. 24 meeting.
Students at the meeting with Stent said that they wanted to see a dean who could combine public sector experience with experience in education. Faculty members have also said that such dual-world experience is invaluable.
“In the past the deanship of the SFS has always looked for people who have both academic and public affairs experience,” Reardon-Anderson said.
SFS Academic Council President Megan Murday (SFS ’15) echoed the hope that the new dean will be someone with a wide range of experience.
“We need a visionary — someone who really has an idea of where the school has been and where it can go in the future,” Murday said. “And we also need someone who has that dynamic background of academia, of experience in the field, so that they can bring the tools of the public and private sector into academia to really build a unique institution.”
Groves said that in addition to someone with a wealth of experience, he hopes to see a dean who is open to collaboration with other academic institutions.
“The world has changed,” Groves said. “There are opportunities to collaborate with other schools at Georgetown in new ways to bring inter-disciplinary programs to the fore. … We need a leader who is attuned to the faculty interests and abilities but also has an eye on initiatives that make the school even stronger than it is now.”
Whoever is selected as the next dean of the SFS will serve at a pivotal time for the school, which will celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2019.
“The School of Foreign Service is one of the jewels and the crown of Georgetown,” Groves said. “It will, under the dean, celebrate its 100th anniversary. So it’s an interesting historical moment for the school. At the very least, we want to maintain the core strengths of the school.”