Dean Schwartz to Step Down and Lead International Advocacy Organization Focused on Refugee Issues
Humphrey School of Public Affairs Dean Eric Schwartz today announced that he will step down at the end of this academic year to serve as president of Refugees International, a Washington, DC, organization that advocates on behalf of refugee protection and international humanitarian values.
Schwartz has had a 30-year career in senior public service positions in government, at the United Nations, in the philanthropic and non-governmental communities, and in academia.
In a message to faculty, staff, students, and friends, Schwartz wrote in part:
This has been one of the most difficult professional decisions I’ve ever had to make. I love being at the Humphrey School and the University of Minnesota, institutions that reflect values I hold dear: educational access and excellence, public service, civility in public discourse, and a commitment to responsible and accountable governance. Moreover, I have been warmly supported within the Humphrey School and within our broader community. The students, the faculty and the staff, as well as so many friends in the broader community, have made this a truly remarkable experience for me.
But I was approached some weeks ago by board leadership of Refugees International, and asked whether I’d be prepared to take on the presidency of the organization. Despite my deep regret at the prospect of leaving the deanship of the Humphrey School, I quickly concluded this was a challenge I had to take on.
Around the world and in the United States, in particular, we are confronting existential challenges to hard-won principles of humanitarianism—principles that I’ve spent most of my professional life seeking to strengthen and promote. Many millions are already at risk, and recent developments have only compounded the life-threatening obstacles confronted by the most vulnerable people in the world.
So I felt I needed to seize this opportunity to play a more direct role in the policy debates and advocacy efforts that are now underway in Washington, in communities around the country, and in countries around the world. And I do so with a sense of excitement, determination and commitment. (Read full statement)
Following the announcement, Karen Hanson, the University’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, issued this statement to Humphrey School faculty and staff:
Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs since fall 2011, has announced his decision to step down June 12. He will leave Minnesota to assume the presidency of Refugees International, a global independent advocacy organization in Washington, DC, focused on refugee protection.
Dean Schwartz has served both the Humphrey School and the broader University with great distinction. As dean, he has advanced excellence in scholarship, expanded public engagement initiatives, significantly increased student scholarship support, and led development of new academic programs, including a rapidly growing Ph.D. program in public affairs and a newly launched master of human rights degree program in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts.
Under his leadership, the Humphrey School gained national prominence for innovative initiatives to develop pipelines of diverse leaders, including serving as the host institution for the national Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship Program, sponsoring a PPIA undergraduate summer institute to prepare future leaders, and hosting leadership training for emerging African leaders as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
During Dean Schwartz’s five and a half years at the helm, the Humphrey School climbed in national rankings, receiving recognition as a top 10 school and advancing its mission to inspire, educate, and support leaders to play key roles in public life and to solve pressing real-world challenges.
In assuming leadership of Refugees International, Dean Schwartz continues a lifetime of service in human rights and humanitarianism, as reflected in his 30+-year career spanning senior positions in government, philanthropic and non-governmental communities, and academia. I am pleased that he will sustain his relationship with the University of Minnesota through periodic mentoring projects for the Humphrey School that expand student learning experiences in international humanitarianism, foreign policy, and advocacy.
I look forward to working with Humphrey School faculty and staff as we turn toward the planning and consultation that are typically undertaken as part of school and college leadership transitions, and we will be back in touch with the Humphrey School about next steps as we look toward the future.
I want to thank Eric for his exemplary service to the Humphrey School and to our University. His leadership has positioned the Humphrey School exceptionally well for the future, and his commitment to humanitarianism and public service is an inspiring example for our students and for us all.
Prior to joining the Humphrey School in 2011, Schwartz served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. He has served as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s deputy special envoy for tsunami recovery, and in the Clinton Administration, as senior director and special assistant to the president for multilateral and humanitarian affairs for the National Security Council.
Schwarz is the sixth dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. After assuming the presidency at Refugees International on June 12, he will maintain a strong relationship with the Humphrey School and the University by undertaking periodic teaching and mentoring projects for students in both Washington, DC, and in the Twin Cities, related to experiences in international humanitarianism, foreign policy, and advocacy.
He holds a law degree from New York University School of Law, a Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the State University of New York.