The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies stands to lose a gifted leader, as President George W. Bush announced on Feb. 5 his intent to nominate Paul Wolfowitz, the school's dean for seven years, as deputy secretary of defense. The position requires Senate confirmation.
Wolfowitz, whose approval is expected, will assume the No. 2 position at the Pentagon, serving under Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
University President William R. Brody led the wave of gratitude and well-wishing to an individual who has repositioned SAIS from a Cold War orientation to an institution focused on the impact and challenges of globalization in the post-Cold War era.
"In the seven years that Paul has been at Johns Hopkins, a lot has changed. It's a different world now, in many respects," Brody said at the time of the White House announcement. "But SAIS is ready for it, because Paul and the school's faculty and staff have had the insight to discern what's important and the commitment to excellence necessary to maintain a leadership role in teaching and research. He has strengthened the faculty, grown the endowment, raised funds for student aid and enhanced the school's visibility among policy-makers in Washington and around the world.
"The bad news is that Johns Hopkins is losing a great dean," Brody said. "The good news is that the country is getting a very smart, very focused, clear-thinking leader as deputy secretary of defense. Paul Wolfowitz will serve the nation well."
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Ithaca, N.Y., Wolfowitz, 57, studied mathematics and chemistry at Cornell University before earning a doctorate in political science at the University of Chicago. His government service career dates back to 1966, when he took a position as a management intern at the U.S. Bureau of the Budget.
He is a veteran of both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. At the beginning of the Reagan administration he served in the State Department as director of the policy planning staff and then as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. From 1986 to 1989, Wolfowitz was the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia.
In 1989, Wolfowitz was named the undersecretary of defense for policy, a position he held until 1993. As undersecretary, Wolfowitz was the principal civilian official responsible for strategy, plans and policy under then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. Wolfowitz served previously in the Defense Department as deputy assistant secretary of defense for regional programs, from 1977 to 1980, and in a variety of positions in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency during the period from 1973 to 1977, including special assistant to the director for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
Wolfowitz also has held several academic positions during the past 30 years. Immediately prior to joining the State Department in 1981, he was visiting associate professor and director of Security Studies at SAIS. From 1970 to 1973 he was on the faculty of Yale University as a lecturer and assistant professor of political science. In 1993 he was the George F. Kennan Professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College.
Wolfowitz became dean of SAIS on Jan. 1, 1994.
In an interview with The Gazette just months after his arrival, Wolfowitz said the areas where he felt SAIS needed strengthening were in better preparing students for careers in international business, growing the endowment and expanding efforts in Asian study, and in Southeast Asia in particular. "The world is changing, and this kind of education is changing," he said.
Edward B. Baker, associate dean for finance and administration at SAIS, says his colleague has followed through and excelled in all his efforts. Baker says that among Wolfowitz's many accomplishments, he was directly responsible for adding an international finance dimension to the school and combining the various Asian studies programs into one department.
"He really has worked hard to change the curriculum here to reflect requirements of the post-Cold War years," Baker says. "This school was founded as a public policy school, and most of our graduates went into positions in the foreign service, the United Nations or multilateral institutions. But today more than 50 percent of our students go into international business after they graduate. He recognized that trend early on and wanted to make sure that the curriculum prepared them for those careers."
Baker says Wolfowitz has done much during his tenure to position SAIS for life in the 21st century. He lists the addition of five research centers, the modernization of the school's information services structure, the capping of tuition increases and the dean's efforts to promote collaboration between SAIS's campuses in Washington, Bologna and Nanjing.
Also, SAIS's endowment has more than doubled in size during Wolfowitz's tenure, Baker adds, nearly tripling the amount of private annual support for the school.
"Without a doubt he has moved the school ahead significantly," Baker says. "He's a forward-looking guy, and in turn this has become a forward-looking school. Not to say we weren't before, but he's really changed a number of things here, and I would say, all for the better."
According to colleagues, who describe the dean as a well-rounded and philosophical man, Wolfowitz's talents will suit him well in his new position. As deputy secretary, Wolfowitz will be responsible for managing the Pentagon's sprawling bureaucracy and day-to-day affairs. It also has been speculated in newspaper reports that Wolfowitz will have a greater say in foreign policy than his predecessors, citing his experience and close ties to the president and vice president as reasons for this expanded role.
Eliot Cohen, professor and director of the Strategic Studies Program at SAIS, says he echoes the sentiments of President Brody in saying that while SAIS has lost a great dean, the Defense Department has gained a great mind.
"They usually get people for these high-level positions who are either broad or deep; what is unique about Paul Wolfowitz is that he is both," Cohen says. "As undersecretary of defense he served during a truly tumultuous time--there was a war going on, no less. And then he was there for the revamping of the Pentagon during and after the Persian Gulf War. But he's also been involved in policy planning, and he was an ambassador and an educator. Everyone here has always been struck by his tremendous breadth of interests."
For his work during the Gulf War, Wolfowitz was awarded the President's Citizen's Medal. Other honors he has received include the State Department Distinguished Honor Award and the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award.
According to Cohen, what makes Wolfowitz such a solid leader is that "he is very good at picking good people and motivating them to do well for the team.
"He's also a very good listener. If you have a conversation with Paul Wolfowitz, he gives you the sense that he is listening very carefully. The students here have responded to that, and that will certainly be a strength in his new position," Cohen says. "I have enjoyed working with him a lot. He has helped set a tone at SAIS that I feel will persist long after he has gone."
Announcements about the search for Wolfowitz's successor are forthcoming.