Korbel dean gears programs to a rapidly changing world
In September 2010, State Department veteran and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill joined the Josef Korbel School of International Studies as dean. With a “practitioner’s eye” and a strong commitment to continuing the school’s scholarly traditions, Hill is eager to lead the institution through an era that likely will be defined by complex international challenges, volatile transnational disputes and an blisteringly fast pace.“As an ambassador and as a dean, you try to look over the bow of the ship, anticipate issues and stay ahead of problems,” Hill said. “We’re on target with fundraising. We continue to attract a great number of excellent students, and we are very much on track for filling our next class with students of even higher quality. But this is a time of transition. To remain a force in the field of international study, we must evolve. Our curriculum has to be up-to-date and relevant, and it is essential faculty share this vision and are willing to be flexible and move quickly as events warrant.” Korbel degree options comprise a BA, three graduate certificate programs, a joint degree, three dual-degree programs, nine MA programs and a PhD program. Hill anticipates curriculum adjustments as needed to maintain relevance. “I can’t emphasize enough how quickly the world changes. In government, people often try to write multiyear strategic reports, then an event like 9/11 happens that completely shifts our worldview,” he said. Adding faculty members is another top priority. “We now have 200 MA candidates per year,” Hill said. “We want to continue to hire new faculty members to maintain our excellent student-teacher ratio.” The Korbel School recently concluded a search for the SIÉ CHÉOU-KANG Center for International Security and Diplomacy endowed chair, hiring Deborah D. Avant, a political scientist and director of the Center for Research on International and Global Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Hill expects that filling the SIÉ CHÉOU-KANG chair, and developing additional endowed positions in the near future, will increase the school’s profile in international diplomacy. That, in turn, will help the school attract some of the world’s top students.