Portrait of Eric Schwartz
Currently reviewing Ph.D. applicants
Global Policy Area
Areas of Expertise
Democracy; human rights; humanitarianism; immigration and refugee services and policy; international relations; US foreign policy and national security


Professor Eric Schwartz is currently on a reduced appointment and extended leave of absence while serving in Washington, DC, as president of Refugees International, the non-governmental organization that advocates on behalf of the refugees and displaced persons. 

From 2011 to 2017, he served as dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and was widely credited with expanding the School’s academic programs and its external engagement in Minnesota, the nation, and the world. Under his leadership, the Humphrey School was judged by its peers as the 8th ranked public affairs school in the nation—the highest ranking in the School’s four decade history.

Prior to arrival at the Humphrey School, Schwartz served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, having been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009. Working with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he served as the Department of State’s principal humanitarian official, managing a $1.85 billion budget, as well as State Department policy and programs for U.S. refugee admissions and U.S. international assistance worldwide.

From 2006 through 2009, Schwartz directed the Connect U.S. Fund, a multi-foundation—NGO collaborative seeking to promote responsible U.S. engagement overseas, and which included the Hewlett Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Mott Foundation.

From August 2005 through January 2007, he served as the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery. In that capacity, he worked with the Special Envoy, former President Clinton, to promote an effective recovery effort. Before that appointment, Schwartz was a lead expert for the congressionally mandated Mitchell-Gingrich Task Force on UN Reform. Prior to that, in 2003 and 2004, he served as the second-ranking official at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

From 1993 to 2001, Schwartz served at the National Security Council at the White House, ultimately as Senior Director and Special Assistant to the President for Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs. He managed responses on international humanitarian, human rights and rule of law issues, as well as United Nations affairs, including peacekeeping.

From 2001 through 2003, Schwartz held fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Council on Foreign Relations. During this period, he also served as a contributor to the Responsibility to Protect Project of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty.

From 1989 to 1993, Schwartz served as Staff Consultant to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs.  Prior to his work on the Subcommittee, he was Washington Director of the human rights organization Asia Watch (now known as Human Rights Watch-Asia). 

He holds a law degree from New York University School of Law, where he was a recipient of a Root-Tilden-Snow Scholarship for commitment to public service through law; a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs Princeton University; and a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in Political Science from the State University of New York at Binghamton. 

Between 2001 and 2009, he also was a visiting lecturer of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, teaching both undergraduate and graduate seminars, task forces, and workshops. 


JD (New York University School of Law)

Master of Public Affairs (Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University)

BA (State University of New York at Binghamton)