Slaughter advances the Wilson School by reaching out
By Joseph Seldner
Princeton NJ -- If being in two places at once violates the laws of physics, Anne-Marie Slaughter may be on a personal mission that pushes those laws to the limits.
Slaughter, a 1980 graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, is finishing her first year as dean of the school. Whether it is being interviewed on CNN, writing for The New York Times op-ed page, hosting a campus colloquium or speaking to a local chamber of commerce, she is working hard to expand on the strengths of the school as an accessible, visible place that fosters academic excellence, strong opinion and spirited debate.
"My role is to be out there," she said. And out there, in the public eye or meeting with the broadly defined Princeton community -- from faculty to alumni to students to administrators -- is where Slaughter spends a good deal of her time.
In a recent interview, she said she has a vision of the Wilson School as "Princeton's nexus with the world of public and international affairs." Toward that end, she has created a seminar series in the nation's capital, recruited new faculty members and served at the forefront of an effort to help create a new international institute.
She is especially proud of the Washington, D.C., seminar series, which "brings together school faculty, policy practitioners and other academic and non-academic experts from across multiple disciplines to foster debate about and advance solutions to pressing domestic and global policy problems."
The programs, held every four to six weeks, are aimed at Washington-based policymakers, Wilson School and other Princeton alumni, the media and the legislative community.
"The impact of the Washington seminar series has been overwhelmingly positive," said Slaughter, noting that she plans to continue the series next year. She said the programs already have achieved a key objective of demonstrating "how the academic research conducted at the Woodrow Wilson School feeds into the policymaking process. By hearing directly from those on the front lines of policymaking, [we are incorporating] what we learn into our research."
At the inaugural Washington series event in February, Nobel Laureate and Princeton Professor Daniel Kahneman discussed whether individual investors make rational decisions. Other programs have featured Assistant Dean Robert Hutchings on the intelligence challenges the United States faces in the world after the Iraq conflict and Professor Alan Krueger on the New York City school vouchers program. At the June program, faculty members Anne Case and Chris Paxson will discuss their research on HIV/AIDS and orphans in Africa.
Faculty recruitment also is a key part of her vision for the school. Noted scholars recently recruited by Slaughter to join the Princeton faculty include Douglas Massey from the University of Pennsylvania, a specialist in urban policy and planning, and Thomas Christensen from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an expert on Chinese foreign policy issues.
In addition, Slaughter has responded to President Tilghman's call to make the University a more global place by participating in the planning for the Princeton Institute of International and Regional Studies. The institute, to be created by bringing together the Council on Regional Studies and the Wilson School's Center for International Studies, was approved at the May 19 faculty meeting.
Interests beyond international affairs
An international law expert, Slaughter came to Princeton in September from Harvard Law School, where she was director of graduate and international legal studies and founder and faculty director of the Harvard Colloquium on International Affairs. She currently is president of the American Society of International Law.
Slaughter's interests, however, go well beyond international affairs. In fact, she refrains from making sharp distinctions among many foreign and domestic policy matters. "I think a lot of these issues are mixed," she said. "Health care and education may be called 'domestic policy' if we are talking about them in the United States or 'development issues' if we are talking about them abroad. It often just depends on where they are being studied."
One of her main in-terests is students. At Harvard, she was "incredibly busy yet always had time to be deeply concerned about stu-dents in her class," said William Alford, who succeeded Slaughter there. She continues to supervise some of the Harvard Ph.D. stu-dents with whom she worked before coming to Princeton.
During the interview, Slaughter discussed the University's decision to halt the race-based admission policy of the school's Junior Summer Institute, the 17-year-old program that has invited college students of color to the Princeton campus to train for careers in public service. The University announced earlier this year that the institute will run this summer, but that decisions about the program's future will not be made until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a pending affirmative-action case.
"The role the school has played [through the institute] in opening doors to minority students has had a real impact," Slaughter said. Not only has the institute made students of color more aware of public service career paths, but, she added, for the past seven years, about one-quarter of all students of color who have enrolled in the Wilson School have been institute graduates.
In addition to presenting challenges for University officials, public policy issues like affirmative action also afford opportunities for Wilson School faculty members to share their expertise. Slaughter believes that faculty should play a role in shaping the debate around such topics. She has written and spoken out on many of the key foreign policy issues of the day, and encourages others at the school to do the same.
Her vision for the school includes that it be viewed as a source of expertise and as a place that encourages "strong and varied opinion."
"I've found Anne-Marie to be extremely open and engaged and always willing to listen, even when she disagrees," said Aaron Friedberg, director of the school's Center of International Studies, who recently was named deputy national security adviser to Vice President Cheney. "I believe that she's helping to set a new, more collegial tone which will help to stimulate debate and discussion at the school and to make it a much livelier and exciting place to teach and to study."
Slaughter said she is both proud -- and a trifle awed -- by her new job. "When I first got this job, I called my old Princeton roommate, who is still my best friend in the world, and said to her, 'How did I get here?'"
Still, she says, "this is much closer to what I thought I'd be doing when I was an undergraduate here. I came to Princeton as a student because of the Wilson School, and in many ways, this really felt like coming home." However, she noted, she never thought she'd be back in a role that included a view from the dean's office. Others are less surprised. "This is the job she was born for," said Harvard's Alford.
She is particularly pleased to find that "Princeton is one community in a very real way." It is that sense of strong community that also guides another important part of her vision for the school, that of a place that is open to both academics and members of the community.
Slaughter noted that a recent colloquium hosted by the school, "A World of Good and Evil? The Return to Morality in International Affairs," attracted many people from the area who were not affiliated with the University. "Several people came up to me and said they felt that Princeton was open to them," Slaughter said. "That is exactly the kind of place I want this to be."
June 2, 2003
Vol. 92, No. 28
archives previous next
Valedictorian looks forward to continuing pursuits beyond Princeton
Latin salutatorian: Mythical fascination leads to odyssey with classical languages
Slaughter advances the Wilson School by reaching out
New faculty members appointed
Labouisse winner gets 'in the flow' of research
Four seniors, one alumnus receive Gates Cambridge Scholarships
Four honored for their work mentoring graduate students
Admission video wins gold medal
Provenance research subject of exhibition at art museum
Library acquires collection of Eudora Welty
Calendar of events
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Editor: Ruth Stevens
Calendar editor: Carolyn Geller
Staff writers: Jennifer Greenstein Altmann, Steven Schultz
Contributing writers: Patricia Allen, Karin Dienst, Eric Quinones, Joseph Seldner
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