Dozens of SAIS
alumni will return to their alma mater this week to take
part in what the school
proudly hails as a thinking man's (and woman's) reunion.
For the second consecutive year, SAIS will host its
Alumni College, an innovative two-day series
of lectures, panel discussions, interactive presentations
and social events featuring some of the
school's most distinguished faculty members and several
high-profile keynote speakers.
Occurring just weeks before the general election, the
2008 Alumni College will revolve around
the theme of "America's Next President: Assessing Global
Priorities." SAIS faculty and leading U.S.
policy-makers will address a range of political, national
security and economic issues facing the country
in what organizers call a vital transition year in foreign
The Alumni College will kick off on Thursday evening,
Oct. 23, with an opening reception and
address by Nancy Birdsall, a 1969 graduate of SAIS and
founding president of the Center for Global
The school founded the program last year as a means to
"substantially re-engage" its alumni
population in a nontraditional way, said Roger Leeds,
faculty coordinator for the Alumni College and
director of the Center for International Business, Finance
and Public Policy.
"We wanted to create something intellectual,
interactive and participatory that would challenge
our alumni and attract their interest," Leeds said. "The
program is somewhat intense. We didn't want
them to passively sit in on lectures but actually engage
with the faculty on serious contemporary
Leeds believes that the school has created something
"To our knowledge, no other school does an event quite
like this. When we were looking for
comparable programs, we just couldn't find an equivalent
out there," he said.
The inaugural Alumni College attracted more than 50
SAIS alums of all ages from across the
globe. In attendance were venture capitalists, foreign
correspondents, ambassadors, business
executives, government officials, NGO administrators and
"We were very pleased with the turnout. It was a very
diverse group," Leeds said. "We had
people come from Germany, Greece — one woman came all
the way from China to take part. They all
wanted to learn and reconnect with SAIS. They initially
came to SAIS for well-defined reasons —
some, decades ago — and they wanted to recapture
Leeds said that the response from participants was
overwhelmingly positive, and the school
decided to make this an annual event.
The 2008 program will allow participants to explore
and debate some of the most critically
important foreign policy challenges awaiting the nation's
next president, Leeds said. The class
discussions will focus on such topics as China policy, U.S.
intelligence strategies, trade negotiations,
democracy promotion and global climate change.
In addition to Birdsall, keynote speakers, both of
whom are SAIS alumni, are Arturo Sarukhan,
a career diplomat and currently an ambassador in the
Mexican foreign service, and Michael Van Dusen,
deputy director of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.
Prior to his current role, Van Dusen
served for nearly 30 years in the U.S. House of
Representatives as a staff consultant and staff
director of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and
subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East.
The list of faculty presenters includes Francis
Fukuyama, the Bernard L. Schwartz Professor
of International Political Economy and director of the
International Development Program; Mary
Habeck, an associate professor in the Strategic Studies
Program; Pravin Krishna, an economics expert
who holds joint academic appointments at SAIS and the
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences; David
Lampton, SAIS dean of faculty and director of the China
Studies Program; Michael Mandelbaum,
director of the American Foreign Policy Program; John
McLaughlin, a senior research fellow in the
Strategic Studies Program; and Riordan Roett, director of
the Western Hemisphere Studies and the
Latin American Studies programs.
All speeches, class sessions and events for Alumni
College 2008 will be held in the Rome, Nitze
and Bernstein-Offit buildings on the school's Washington,
D.C., campus, or in the surrounding Dupont
Circle area. The cost is $1,200 per alum or friend of SAIS,
a fee that covers all keynote addresses,
class sessions, reading materials, receptions and meals.
To register or for more information, go to: