Matthew Gutmann began serving at his new post as vice president for international affairs Sept. 1, becoming the second person to occupy the position since its creation less than two years ago.
Gutmann, a professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, succeeds David Kennedy '76, who resigned abruptly in June, forcing University administrators to quickly fill the vacancy before the start of the academic year. Kennedy had also served as interim director of the Watson Institute for International Studies.
Gutmann will work with President Ruth Simmons and Provost David Kertzer '69 P'95 P'98 to further Brown's role on the international stage. Brown identified internationalization as a major goal in 2006, and has since piloted programs across all levels of University life — from financial aid to course offerings to research opportunities — to establish an international presence beyond College Hill.
But to the average student, concrete effects of such an overarching agenda are often hard to pin down, Gutmann said. Changes will take time to develop, he said, adding that the University already has "tremendous assets."
"It's daunting, but it's very exciting," he said.
Gutmann was selected by a four-member faculty search advisory committee in August. Kertzer called him an "unusual combo," referring to his background in both social and "hard" sciences. He has a bachelor's degree in modern and classical Chinese from the University of California, Berkeley and graduate degrees from Berkeley in cultural anthropology and public health.
Gutmann's research is broad and has involved issues such as gender, democracy and reproductive health. He has more than a decade of experience working as a community organizer in Chicago, tackling issues of poverty and urban violence.
He was named the Stanley J. Bernstein Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Brown in 2000 and became a full professor in 2007. He became director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies earlier this year.
"He is someone who just has a very high energy level and will be very active in pushing Brown's international image ahead," Kertzer said.
Administrators are currently discussing how to fill Gutmann's position at the Center for Latin American Studies. Gutmann will continue to serve as the center's director until a replacement is found, Kertzer said.
Internationalization has become a top priority at many American colleges and universities in the past decade, Kertzer said, a trend driven by the desire to both attract more international students on campus and increase the University's presence abroad.
Brown is among the last of its peer institutions to establish a top administrative position with this distinct purpose, Kertzer said. "We do feel some urgency to strengthen our international program," he said.
The University will focus on both its graduate and undergraduate programs, hoping to enrich both curricular and extracurricular opportunities, Kertzer said. He pointed specifically to interdisciplinary course offerings, internship opportunities and intensive language programs.
"We can no longer be engaged successfully unless we go global," Gutmann said. He cited large-scale problems such as environmental degradation and the AIDS epidemic as evidence that an insular approach to education is no longer sufficient.
Yet Gutmann acknowledged that converting such a broad goal to tangible educational changes can be difficult.
"What does it mean for Brown to be global? It's not an easy thing to figure out," he said.