University News

Still seeking director, Watson moves forward on initiatives

By and
Staff Writer and Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 7, 2012

The University continues its search for a permanent director of the Watson Institute for International Studies after appointing Peter Andreas, professor of political science and international studies, as interim director in May. The institute has cycled through six directors in the last eight years. 

The offices of the president and the provost recently created a search committee and reached out to relevant faculty in pursuit of  a “perfect fit” for the position, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. The committee has already contacted a small number of potential candidates but is currently keeping the names confidential, Schlissel said.

Andreas took office after former interim director Carolyn Dean stepped down from the post in July as planned. His selection followed an extended search process for a permanent director that narrowed the candidate pool to three finalists in April. “Although the several candidates we interviewed were excellent, none of them were a perfect fit,” Schlissel said in May. “Our goal is to get an outstanding person.”

Schlissel speculated about the difficulty of the search, noting that some candidates may have been “a little scared of the instability” caused by former President Ruth Simmons announcing her resignation, Schlissel said. But he said he hopes that under the leadership of new President Christina Paxson, the University will be able to find a qualified candidate since international affairs is “her area of scholarship.” 

Paxson served as dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs before being selected as the University’s 19th president. 

“From the Watson Institute’s perspective, we could not have hoped for a better fit for a president,” Andreas said, adding that he expects Paxson’s expertise in the area will help attract “a much stronger pool of candidates” for the position.

Though Schlissel said he believes the constantly changing leadership is not good for the institute, he expressed no fears about its ability to thrive once a long-term director is chosen. For this reason, the search committee is dedicated to finding an outstanding scholar working in an area related to Watson’s work who possesses leadership experience and is a “good fit for Brown,” Schlissel said. 

But this process is “an enormous challenge,” wrote Andreas in an email to The Herald, as the University is looking for an “all-too-rare mix” in a permanent director.

In the meantime, the institute is going forward with several new initiatives, Andreas wrote, adding that he expects this to be “a very busy and exciting year.” Among the new projects the institute is undertaking this year are new undergraduate and graduate fellowship programs, a faculty sabbatical top-up program – in which professors would take their sabbaticals at the University rather than leaving – and multiple lecture series in the field of global security. 

The institute will also be “strengthening our ties with institutional partners, ranging from the Middle East Studies Program and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies to the India Initiative and the Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance,” Andreas wrote. All of these projects are “designed to bring Watson more into Brown and Brown more into Watson,” Andreas wrote.

Andreas highlighted the “extraordinary” work of current faculty in a May interview with The Herald, but he stressed the need for more faculty growth at the institute.

“Basically, we’ve been in a kind of holding mode or even shrinking mode in the last few years,” Andreas said. “One would like to think that with a permanent director coming in, Watson will start to grow.”

  • Anonymous

    Why not commit the Watson to a mission focus on international higher education? This is a large and understudied topic.Through this channel Brown could be in touch with the creation and circulation of contemporary elites, as well as with the construction and diffusion of knowledge and with the transformative role of universities as vehicles for a distinctive global cosmology. Such a focus would enable numerous opportunities for partnerships, exchanges, networks, and collaborations and to feel the pulse of this massive and generative domain.