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Coit D. Blacker named director of Stanford's Institute for International Studies
Coit D. "Chip" Blacker, deputy director of the Institute for International Studies (IIS), has been selected to lead the institute for the next four years, Provost John Etchemendy announced June 25.
Blacker, a senior fellow at IIS and a professor, by courtesy, of political science, will become director on Sept. 1. He succeeds David Holloway, the Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History, who has headed the institute since 1998.
"As deputy director at IIS, Chip Blacker has played a central role in advancing the institute to a position of national prominence in the area of research in international studies," Etchemendy said. "Moreover, Chip's experience in government paired with his unparalleled dedication to students has created a critical link that will help produce a generation of leaders prepared to confront complex international issues."
IIS, established in 1987, is the university's primary forum for interdisciplinary research on key international issues. The institute comprises five research centers that bring together faculty, staff and students from across campus. It also hosts scholars, government and business leaders for research projects, lectures, conferences and new scholarly initiatives. IIS operates on an $18 million annual budget, 85 percent of which comes from sponsored research and other funds the institute raises. The university provides the remaining financial support.
Blacker, director of the institute's newest research unit the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law will step down from that position when he becomes IIS director. The other centers at IIS concentrate on the Asia/Pacific region, environmental science and policy, health policy, and international security and cooperation.
Blacker, 53, first came to campus in 1977 as a postdoctoral fellow in the university's Arms Control and Disarmament Program. He is an expert in U.S. and Soviet/Russian foreign and security policies, and national and international security relations. A native of Santa Monica, Blacker earned advanced degrees in the 1970s from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
While Blacker has spent much of his professional life in academia, he also has used his skills in government. In 1981 and 1982, Blacker worked as a legislative assistant to then Democratic Sen. Gary Hart of Colorado. In 1995 and 1996, he served as President Bill Clinton's special assistant for national security affairs and senior director of Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs at the National Security Council. During the 2000 presidential race, Blacker advised Vice President Al Gore on foreign policy issues.
At Stanford, Blacker was named deputy director of IIS in 1998, and served as its acting director from 2000 to 2001. In 2001, he was awarded the Laurence and Naomi Carpenter Hoagland Prize for undergraduate teaching, and also was named the Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in undergraduate education.
Blacker was chosen to lead IIS following a two-month search by a committee headed by Charles Kruger, outgoing vice provost and dean of research and graduate policy. Other committee members included political science Professor David Brady; President Emeritus Gerhard Casper; medicine Professor Alan Garber; IIS Senior Fellow Gail Lapidus; Pamela Matson, dean of the School of Earth Sciences; Joanne Murphy, IIS associate director for academic affairs; history Professor James Sheehan; and sociology Professor Andrew Walder.
Sheehan said the search committee considered candidates who understood the institute's "distinct character" and would be able to represent it effectively to the university. "We wanted someone who could bring together all of its elements and manage a variety of goals [involving] policy, teaching and research," he said. "We thought that Chip did that extraordinarily well."
Blacker, borrowing from a statement by Holloway, described IIS as "a multidisciplinary community of scholars that works." Although long respected by academics, the institute's public profile increased visibly following Sept. 11, 2001, as people struggled to understand the broader implications of the terrorist attacks.
"The effect of Sept. 11 was to destroy the illusion that we, as a society, could be sympathetic to, but not affected by, [issues] going on in other parts of the world," Blacker said. Such problems include the consequences of failed and failing states, and public health crises associated with infectious diseases. "The institute is part of a larger educational enterprise to bring us closer to these problems, and to continue the process of generating knowledge and ideas that inform policy making," he said.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the international system has reorganized itself in ways that are still difficult to predict and understand, Blacker said. The emergence of the United States as a global "hyperpower" was realized after the 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Blacker said one has to go back 2,000 years to the late Roman Republic to find a power wielding a level of global influence similar to what the United States possesses today. "We don't know what that means we're learning that as we go along," he said. The institute wants to offer its expertise so that the United States will make "small mistakes rather than large ones" as it tests its new role worldwide, he added.
Blacker said his first task will be to support the institute's five centers "to become better at what they do" and help IIS understand itself as "a core part of the university and vice versa." Since Sept. 11, 2001, he said, "the university is thinking hard about what it means to be more aware of, and active in, international life. IIS can be a catalyst for work that draws people together from multiple fields of experience."
Blacker said Holloway will be a hard act to follow. "I think David has been great for IIS," he said. "I feel fortunate to have worked together for so long." Blacker said he expects the next four years to be challenging and rewarding but "I couldn't ask for a better group of faculty with whom to work."
By Lisa Trei