President and CEO, Institute of International Education (II E), New York, NY, 1998-present
Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, Washington, DC Executive Dean, 1996-98 Professor of International Affairs, 1988-98 Academic Dean for Graduate Studies and Faculty Development, 1994-96
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies; Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service Program, 1980-94 Associate Professor of International Affairs, 1980-87 Adjunct Professor of Diplomacy, 1977-80
Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, DC Presidential Briefing Coordinator, 1979-80 Special Assistant to Director, National Foreign Assessment Center, 1978-79
Assistant National Intelligence Officer for Political Economy, National Foreign Assessment Center, 1977-78 Analyst, International Issues Division, Office of Regional and Political Analysis, 1977
Analyst, International Functional Staff, Office of Political Research, 1975-76
Stanford University, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Palo Alto, CA, 1974-75
Clark University, Chairman, Department of Government; Assistant and Associate Professor, Worcester, MA, 1971-74
Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, MPA, 1968, and PhD, 1971
Northwestern University, BS, 1966
How do you define your cause?
I've had many different causes, but in this field, my aim is to change the paradigm of higher education. International must become part of what it means to be educated. The vast majority of people don't plan on having an experience outside their own culture.
It's always troubled me that the majority of American citizens don't have a passport. We know from the IIE Open Doors numbers that fewer than 1 percent of Americans in higher education, at any given time, are going to study abroad—even though many more want to go and say they will as they enter university, but a lot of things happen in between. We've tried something that I call our "Passport Campaign," to encourage presidents of American colleges and universities, when they address the freshman convocation, to say "what you need to be successful here is not just a computer and your parents' checkbook, but also a passport."
What we've learned—or I believe I've learned—is that the model of the junior year study abroad, which IIE actually invented in 1923 with twelve colleges and universities participating, no longer works. The junior year is not the best time to go. Hardly anybody goes for a whole year, and what you really have to do is begin to plan for this when you're a freshman. Have a passport, plan whether your first experience is going to be a summer internship between freshman and sophomore year, or go for a Gilman or a Boren scholarship for your languages for your sophomore year. By the time you're a junior, you don't want to be away from campus, or you can't be away from campus if you're a varsity athlete or preparing for the MCATs. People tend to look at that junior year and find too many obstacles. So we need to start much earlier. The first step to get abroad is to get a passport.
What drew you to this cause and your field?
I never thought I'd have a passport. I never thought I would get to go abroad. And I really didn't think I was going to go to college either. I was lucky. I got a scholarship and I had great teachers who asked, "Have you considered this? Have you considered that? Why don't you try this?" I really fell into international work completely by accident.
Where did you "start" and how did it help you get to where you are today?
As an undergraduate, state and local government really fascinated me. I thought someday I would run for Congress. So I focused on domestic politics; the relationship between cities and their states is what fascinated me the most.
I won a scholarship to go to graduate school at Harvard and realized I needed a research assistant job—called "gophers" in those days—to make ends meet. I was told a professor in comparative government needed a gopher, and I said "Gee, I don't think I have any knowledge to contribute . . . I wouldn't even be a good gopher." But I was forced to meet this professor, and he was Samuel P. Huntington. Everything changed: my life, my work, my trajectory. He said to me in the second or third week, "By the way, do you have a passport?" I said, "No," and he said, "Well you better get one because we're going to take a trip around the world this summer."
My career advice here is to keep your mind open to the world. I meet so many students who are undecided, which is okay, but they refuse to try things because they haven't decided yet. They haven't decided if they want to be a diplomat, or a professor, or a consultant. Instead of exploring all three positions, they agonize over "which one am I going to marry?" And this isn't life-marriage. You need to have many options. You need to be flexible.
It's that empowering openness that I find missing in people today who are trying to make career choices. They think they have to solve and narrow before they actually do. We need to show them that if they've got a great education, they can do many things, in many different places: that's what it's all about.
How would you describe your field?
I think it's too soon to say now. A number of years ago, I think we'd have agreed that international education meant mobility. It meant student exchanges, and it meant tracking the numbers. And in the past decade or a decade-and-a-half, the definition and the concept has really dramatically expanded and changed—and it's still in the process of changing. It is mobility, branch campuses, global network universities, and curricular change. It is preparing the next generation for global citizenship.
And we're also on the edge of trying to figure out what distance learning and MOOCs (massive open online courses) mean to the world of international education and exchange. We're probably another five years away from really knowing how big the universe is, knowing the right descriptors, and characterizing it. There's always a risk that the world can turn inward. It has many times before.
How would you describe your career path?
Jagged and not based on any coherent plan. Being open to new challenges and new possibilities was something that Professor Huntington taught me.
What are the major day-to-day activities of your current position?
It's important to ask myself each day: Have I done enough with Congress in advocating for international exchange? Who am I going to ask for money? Do I remember what the vision is and what am I planning to do to execute the vision? If you're not focusing on the vision, then you're focusing on the tactical. And your job when you are president of an organization is to focus on the bigger picture: always try to move the organization forward, always think about what we ought to do and where we ought to be.
What is your best advice for developing effective networking skills?
I'll come back to something I said previously. I am struck in giving career advice that people starting out in their careers are not open-minded about what they could do, about what they could experience. That's a big danger.
Young people today are afraid. They are, after all, the first generation that are guaranteed not to live as well as their parents. Kids are worried about getting into schools, they're worried about staying in school, about what jobs will be available when they graduate. There isn't a sense of opportunity, or of "let me explore the world." There is a profound sense of caution. We underestimate how worried this next generation is. And when you're worried, you're much less likely to say, "I'm going to try this. Or, at least, I'll apply for it."
I come back to this quality of openness. There isn't a course "Openness 101" at school. You need someone to encourage you: a professor, your parents, your significant other, a mentor.
Do you have a mentor? How has he or she affected your life and career?
Professor Huntington would be number one, but Peter Krogh, the dean at Georgetown University for whom I worked, taught me a huge amount. Admiral Turner at the CIA taught me a great deal about management and leadership.
I learned to do the best job possible. Put excellence in your work ahead of everything else. I learned to get exposed to a lot of different issues and people. Ask short but good questions that you really need to know the answers to in order to do your work better. The more you speak, the less you're learning. Be very conscious in any space, in any dialogue—if you're the one speaking, you're not learning anything, so achieve the right balance between listening and talking.
How have you maintained a healthy balance between your work and personal life?
I think it's pretty unfair to ask that of a president, because you are the chief executive. You are responsible for the whole organization so you're never really off duty. I'm not sure CEOs can have a life-work balance. You just have to do the best you can.
What lessons have you learned as your career has evolved?
Keeping your job at IIE—or any place—requires two things. One is the ability to write a good paragraph or page, and no more. That's something that we don't teach in university. If you're not able to write an effective three-sentence e-mail, if you can't capture something thoughtfully and respectfully in a few sentences, you're going to have a problem.
Second, because we are a service organization, have the empathy or compassion to put yourself in the exchange program sponsor's shoes, or the program grantee's shoes, and try to solve their problems. And sometimes solving problems means getting multiple sources of advice.
I think good writing skills and the capacity for empathy are the two most important traits you can bring to the workplace, whether it's public or private, whether it's domestic or international.