Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Stephen Bosworth last week announced to the Fletcher community that Fletcher School Professor of International Politics Vali Nasr will leave Tufts to become dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in July.
Nasr joined the faculty of the Fletcher School in 2007. He is associate director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies and is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Policy Advisory Board. He recently served on the Provost Search Committee, which selected Cornell University sociologist and associate dean David Harris as Tufts’ next provost.
“For all of us at Fletcher, the following news is bittersweet,” Bosworth said in his email sent to the Fletcher community. “As both a Fletcher and Tufts alumnus, as well as one of the School’s most respected faculty members, Professor Nasr has made enormous contributions to the University. His professional accomplishments have long been — and continue to be — a source of institutional and personal pride.”
At SAIS, Nasr will be partially responsible for the curriculum, faculty, fundraising and operation of the school, according to Director of Communications at Johns Hopkins University Dennis O’Shea.
“Our administration is excited and our students are excited, especially that he has connections to people who are making and ushering policy in governments across the world,” O’Shea told the Daily.
Nasr graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Tufts in 1983 with a degree in international relations and earned a master’s degree in international economics and Middle East studies from the Fletcher School the following year. He later received a Ph.D. in political science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Nasr said his knowledge of Tufts and higher education will help him understand the role he will be occupying.
“The experiences I’ve had at Tufts — working with the students, working in government — it’s all in preparation for taking on this challenge,” Nasr said. “I saw Tufts and Fletcher as an undergrad. The office provides me with the opportunity to put into practice the way I envision global and international education, and my perception of challenges in today’s world, and I’m looking to address this from the other end.”
Nasr will succeed Jessica Einhorn, who is retiring after 10 years as SAIS dean.
The search process for a new dean of SAIS began last October, according to O’Shea. The executive search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates helped facilitate the search.
“Someone nominated me for the SAIS job, the firm got in touch and the process of vetting went from there,” Nasr said. “I wanted to understand what was their vision, what they were looking for, if it was a good fit.”
The process became more intense and serious in January, and from there, details fell into place quickly, according to Nasr.
Nasr became acquainted with the current dean through previous meetings, and his relations to SAIS are extensive in the professional arena.
“Over the years, I’ve known students who went to SAIS, SAIS alumni I met when I worked at the state department, and there are many faculty I know as colleagues,” Nasr said. “Most of the individuals I met and learned about through the process.”
“SAIS offered the unique opportunity to get involved in management of a great institution,” he added. “In size, it’s a sister institution to Fletcher, the schools are close in tier profile, [and they] focus on international and global affairs.”
O’Shea said that as an academic and a practitioner of foreign policy, Nasr is very qualified for the position.
“When he visited SAIS last week, the people meeting him for the first time were taken with him and impressed,” O’Shea said. “Basically, he has the full package — academics, policy, and person.”
Nasr said he does not know how the Fletcher School plans on filling his position as professor.
“I’ll miss [Tufts] tremendously; it’s been rewarding being here,” Nasr said.