Top NATO Commander Admiral James Stavridis Named Dean of Tufts' Fletcher School

May 6, 2013

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Jessica Smith

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (May 6, 2013) -- James Stavridis,  the Navy admiral who is NATO’s top military commander and oversees all American forces under the U.S. European Command, has been selected for appointment as the dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the nation’s oldest graduate-only school of international affairs. 

Stavridis earned an M.A. in law and diplomacy and a Ph.D. in international affairs from the school and will assume the deanship this summer following his anticipated retirement from the Navy.

The New York Times has called Stavridis a "Renaissance admiral," largely because this career Navy man has defined the 21st-century U.S. military as not built solely on might, but on "smart power," the creation of durable partnerships with friends and allies to achieve mutual goals of security, prosperity and peace.

Known as an inspirational leader and strategic thinker with a keen understanding of world affairs, Stavridis has often said that "We are excellent at launching Tomahawk missiles; we need to get better at launching ideas."

Stavridis is the first naval officer to serve as American and NATO commander in Europe. He is responsible for 120,000 coalition troops operating on three continents and at sea. The 51-nation European Command stretches from Spain and Portugal to the Middle East and into the Caucasus. Stavridis has had to navigate diverse geography, culture and economics in the region while negotiating such issues as the NATO mission in Afghanistan, cyber-security, piracy off the Horn of Africa and protecting millions of Turkish citizens who live near the border with Syria.  

"Admiral Stavridis has the rare combination of intellectual curiosity, social intelligence, humility, leadership skills and respect from others that have made him one of the great military and political leaders of his generation, and that will make him a spectacular Fletcher dean, and a key member of the university leadership team," said Tufts Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris in announcing the appointment.

Harris also noted Stavridis' expertise in diplomacy, security studies, international organizations and politics—all areas that are key to the Fletcher School's mission.

Stavridis said, "I am honored to be selected to be the 12th dean of the Fletcher School, where I was lucky to earn my Ph.D. some years ago. I will focus on multinational, interagency, private-public and strategic communication approaches to international affairs, as I have through my career in the Navy."

Before assuming his current commands in 2009, Stavridis had led the U.S. Southern Command—comprising Latin America, South America and the Caribbean—since 2006.

Earlier in his career, Stavridis commanded the destroyer USS Barry during deployments to Haiti, Bosnia and the Persian Gulf; the destroyer won the Battenberg Cup as the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet under his command. He received the Navy League’s John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership as commander of Destroyer Squadron 21, which deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1998. From 2002 to 2004, during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, he led the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Persian Gulf. Stavridis has an impressive record on diversity and inclusion, and successfully commanded the first Navy destroyer to have both male and female sailors on board.

He served as executive assistant to Navy Secretary Richard Danzig during the Clinton administration and as a senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the George W. Bush presidency.

Stavridis will step down from his military commands later this spring and be succeeded by Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove. 

Born into a military family, Stavridis spent part of his childhood in Greece while his father, a Marine officer, was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Athens. He earned his undergraduate degree in literature with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy and is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College and National War College.  

He has taught literature at the Naval Academy as well as two courses at Tufts’ Experimental College: “Strategy and Policy” and “Literature of the Sea.” He aims to read a novel a week and makes it a point to read poets of the countries to which he travels.

He is the author of Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command (National Defense University Press), a reflection on his tenure as commander of the Southern Command, and four other books on leadership, maritime affairs and strategic innovation. He has published more than 100 articles.

Stavridis has embraced digital communications to engage a global audience about everything from the pressing issues of the day to his reading list. He has more than 13,000 followers on Twitter and more than 10,000 friends on Facebook, where he posts commentary as well as photos from his frequent travels. He is also a regular blogger at From the Bridge.

Stavridis will succeed Dean Stephen W. Bosworth, who has led the Fletcher School since 2001 and will retire this summer.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (The Fletcher School)—the first exclusively graduate school of international affairs in the United States—has prepared the world’s leaders to tackle complex global challenges since 1933. The school’s alumni represent the highest levels of leadership in the world, including hundreds of sitting ambassadors; respected voices from distinguished media outlets; heads of global nonprofit organizations; leaders of international peacekeeping and security initiatives; and executive leadership of some of the world’s largest for-profit companies. The Fletcher School offers a collaborative, flexible and interdisciplinary approach to the study of international affairs, featuring a distinguished faculty and diverse student body representing more than half the world’s countries.

The Fletcher School awards professional degrees, including a two-year Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (MALD); a one-year Master of Arts for mid-career professionals; a one-year, mid-career combined Internet-mediated/residential Global Master of Arts (GMAP); a Ph.D. program; a Master of Arts in International Business (MIB); and a Master of Laws in International Law (LL.M.)—as well as joint degrees, summer school and certificate programs.

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