Law School prof to take leadership role at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation

Tino Cuéllar, an expert in executive power, international security and public health and safety, will bring a new focus on environmental, infrastructure and human security issues.

Courtesy of Stanford Law School Tino Cuéllar

Tino Cuéllar

Growing up nine blocks from a fence that divided a town of about 20,000 Americans from a city of over half a million Mexicans gave Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar an early lesson on the need for good international relations.

"You see one of the most polluted rivers in North America connecting the United States and Mexico, and you realize it's not just one country's problem," said Cuéllar, who spent his teenage years in Calexico, Calif., just a step north of Mexicali. "You watch the flow of thousands of people crossing the border checkpoint every day, and you realize that governments have to work together to protect the public's health and safety."

The perspective made him realize how lucky he was to live on the American side of the border, where schools were better and democracy was stronger. It also shaped his academic interests, his ambitions to work in two presidential administrations and his focus for his upcoming role as co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

"CISAC can build on past successes improving our understanding of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism by addressing environmental, infrastructure and human security issues," Cuéllar said. "Global pandemics, mass migration events caused by food insecurity or breakdowns in the rule of law can have devastating consequences. CISAC is the tip of the spear connecting one of the world's great universities with the search for solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time."

Cuéllar, a 38-year-old Stanford Law School professor known to colleagues as "Tino," starts his post at CISAC at the end of the current academic year. He joins co-director Siegfried Hecker, a research professor of management science and engineering and an FSI senior fellow.

Cuéllar succeeds co-director Scott Sagan, who has been leading CISAC since 1998 and will continue to play a role at the center and focus on policy-related research for the Global Nuclear Future Initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

"I am extremely pleased that Tino Cuéllar will be joining me," Hecker said. "He will build on the extraordinary leadership that Scott Sagan has provided over the last 12 years, and his outstanding academic credentials and deep experience in Washington crafting security policy will be a tremendous asset to CISAC."

Cuéllar, an expert in executive power, international security, and public health and safety, will continue teaching at the Law School, where he is the Deane F. Johnson Faculty Scholar. He is also a professor, by courtesy, of political science.

"Tino's decision to become co-director of CISAC is good for everyone," said Larry Kramer, the Richard E. Lang Professor and Dean of Stanford Law School. "It's a great opportunity for him to pursue and build on his expertise in national security. It adds an innovative and forward-thinking mind and voice to CISAC. And it will generate tremendous new opportunities for collaboration between the Law School and CISAC."

CISAC isn't new territory for Cuéllar. He attended CISAC seminars as a graduate student, became an affiliated faculty member after joining the Law School and currently serves on the center's executive committee.

"Tino is an acclaimed scholar, an outstanding teacher and an experienced policymaker who thinks hard and very creatively about the most pressing national and international security issues of our time," said Coit Blacker, FSI's director and the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor in International Studies.

Cuéllar, who earned his PhD in political science at Stanford 10 years ago, has had an extensive public service record since he began teaching at the Law School in 2001. He's worked with several civil society organizations, including the Haas Center for Public Service, Asylum Access and the American Constitution Society.

He took a leave of absence from Stanford to join the Obama administration, leading the White House Domestic Policy Council's work on criminal justice and drug policy, public health and food safety, regulatory reform, borders and immigration, civil rights, and rural and agricultural policy.

Although he left Washington this past summer to return to Stanford, he accepted a presidential appointment to the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, a non-partisan agency charged with recommending improvements in the efficiency and fairness of federal regulatory programs.

Cuéllar also worked in the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, focusing on fighting financial crime, improving border coordination and enhancing anti-corruption measures.

Cuéllar said his academic and Beltway experience gives him a sense of how universities can help in understanding global problems and creating possible solutions.

"When scholars are at their best, they generate new knowledge," he said. "And sometimes that knowledge can affect what's happening in the world."