Kennedy ’76 named VP for int’l affairs

By
Monday, October 15, 2007

David Kennedy ’76, a professor of law and director of the European Law Research Center at Harvard Law School, will become Brown’s first vice president for international affairs, President Ruth Simmons announced Saturday after a meeting of the Corporation. Kennedy, who will lead the University’s effort to raise its global profile, will take his post in January 2008.

“David has been one of the major forces in the teaching of international law at Harvard for many years now and has developed an incredibly rich network of relationships with institutions and scholars around the world,” Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98, who co-chaired the search committee for the new vice president, told The Herald. “He knows government leaders and major figures in the academic world, so he brings a tremendous set of resources for Brown to build up relationships.”

Since the University’s internationalization committee, which was established in October 2006, released its report in early September, the administration has largely been waiting for the arrival of the vice president for the effort to continue. The report – a wide-ranging exploration of what Brown can do to raise its international profile and expand its connections to institutions abroad – makes clear that the vice president will drive the effort and determine the implementation of specific proposals.

Kennedy’s appointment this weekend allows the internationalization agenda to move forward.

“I think the most important thing is that Brown make the transition to a global university in its own way,” Kennedy said. “Brown has a very special ethos, a special ethic and approach to education, and I don’t think that Brown needs to start down a ‘me-too-ism’ road. I think we need to find our own way.”

In many ways, Kennedy said, he conceives of the internationalization effort as similar to Brown’s emergence in the mid-twentieth century as a national-caliber university, and he eschews following established models.

“Brown made the transition from strong regional college to national university-college over a whole generation. And it did so largely by having its own vision: the New Curriculum, its own approach to education,” he said.

“As we make the transition to global university, I think we should expect it to be every bit as profound a transformation, every bit as important a challenge,” Kennedy said. “It’s the kind of thing that needs to be done in Brown’s own way. So we can learn from what other universities have done and what others have tried, but I think we have to first try to think about how we can deepen Brown’s strength here.”

“You really get a sense of a campus that is on the move, making strides where people are flexible and creative about what they want to do (and) enthusiastic about moving forward,” Kennedy said. “For me, the strongest impression I took away from the search is the sense of energy in the faculty and student body at the moment.”

Brown’s relative lack of professional schools and smaller graduate programs – and the resources and connections that come with these assets – present a unique challenge as the University tries to expand its international profile. But Kennedy said he sees opportunities for the University to use these characteristics as leverage in a unique way.

“I think there is a lot Brown can do in the area of advanced research as a convener of young scholars from around the world – to work with Brown students, to work with Brown faculty here – without having graduate schools,” he said. “Jump over the professional schools and hook undergraduate students up directly with young scholars, academics and policy-makers abroad in ways that other universities might have a harder time doing.”

Nevertheless, Kennedy stressed the importance of graduate study to Brown’s global ambitions. “I think it’s impossible to imagine that Brown can become an international university without a first-rate graduate program and advanced research,” he said.

Though Kennedy held a position as a visiting scholar at the Watson Institute for International Studies last semester, he acknowledged that he needs to understand the current state of internationalization on campus before he begins moving the effort forward.

“I hope in the coming weeks to have a series of conversations with folks around the campus to try to digest the report of the internationalization committee and understand better what the recommendations were and what would make sense as a next step in the process,” he said.

University officials are also keen on getting Kennedy immersed in the campus milieu. Because Kennedy is currently teaching a full slate of courses at Harvard, the administration will try to make the most effective use of his time at Brown this semester.

“One of the first things he needs to do, of course, is to get a fuller sense on campus of what is already going on, in terms of the teaching and research programs with international links that faculty and students are already engaged in,” said Kertzer, to whom Kennedy will report. To facilitate this process, Kennedy will be at Thursday’s faculty forum to discuss the internationalization committee’s report.

Though the administration had hoped to have the vice president on campus full-time this semester, the appointment process took longer than expected. A good part of this delay, Kertzer said, came from the exact nature of the appointment. In addition to his administrative position, Kennedy was also appointed to a named professorship in international relations and as a fellow at the Watson Institute. Because his appointment is tenured and the administration was not in the position to make an offer until the end of the last academic year, the official appointment had to wait until the University’s Tenure, Promotion and Appointments Committee resumed meeting this academic year.

Both Kennedy and the administration expect he will make use of the full breadth of his appointment by teaching. Though Kennedy will be busy setting up his office for the next few semesters, he said, he hopes to teach undergraduate and graduate students as well as explore the issue of global governance, which is currently his primary research concentration. Kennedy specifically mentioned his interest in establishing a center for advanced research in global governance and noted the potential for undergraduates to get involved in this burgeoning field of study.

Kennedy’s experience – most notably as the director of Harvard’s European Law Research Center – focuses on a continent where Brown already has strong ties. Though the internationalization committee’s report did not discount the importance of continued enhancement of the University’s European connections, it advised that the effort concentrate on diversifying Brown’s non-European assets.

“It’s true that most of his experience has been in Europe, but he has a lot of experience in the developing world,” said Barbara Stallings, director of the Watson Institute. “But the most important thing for Brown’s effort is his general intellectual interest.”

“The internationalization effort is very important to the future of the University. If we are to be a leader in the U.S., we have to reach overseas. We need a person with special skills, and David has a broad range of skills and experience, and he has a proven track record of scholarship and leadership,” said David McKinney P’80 P’82 P’89, a member of the Corporation’s Board of Fellows and vice chair of the Watson Institute’s Board of Overseers. “I think his appointment will help amplify the progress at the Watson Institute, which is vital to the University’s internationalization effort.”