Laura Spitz named interim leader for international affairs

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Cornell University continues to internationalize its curriculum, enroll international students at record levels, send students abroad and enact an ongoing multifaceted global initiative three years after President David Skorton challenged the university community to boost its worldwide engagement.

Cornell Vice Provost for International Affairs Fredrik Logevall, who undertook significant efforts to internationalize the Ithaca-based curriculum and to prioritize meaningful international experiences for students, has accepted a joint position at Harvard University, effective July 1. Logevall has been named the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and professor of history at the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Laura Spitz, associate dean for international affairs at the Law School, has been appointed interim vice provost for international affairs, effective this summer. Spitz, a member of the university’s Internationalization Council, will continue her role at the Law School, where she also is executive director of the Clarke Center for International and Comparative Legal Studies.

The momentum that has propelled Cornell’s global aspirations under Skorton’s leadership is poised for further growth in the years to come, especially given President-elect Elizabeth Garrett’s well-recognized record of global commitment. Garrett will become the university’s 13th president July 1.

“I congratulate Fred on this appointment,” Skorton said. “We are excited for him, and are grateful for all he has done for Cornell during his time with us. Fred’s passion for internationalizing the Ithaca-based student experience and building global connections for Cornellians on multiple levels helped bring many others on board as part of our broad international initiative. As a teacher, author and scholar, he has profoundly enriched the university.”

Logevall, a native of Sweden, joined the Cornell faculty in 2004. His 2012 book, “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam,” won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in history.

On the appointment of Spitz as interim vice provost, Skorton said, “We are fortunate to have a scholar of Laura’s caliber and experience step up to lead us in this initiative, which is so important to Cornell’s future.”

“Cornell’s profile as a global university, expanding internationally in its composition, scope of activities, experiences and competency, is strong,” said Interim Provost Harry Katz. “The advisory councils and task forces, as well as the work of so many others throughout our campuses, will continue to build upon this vision. Laura’s expertise in international affairs will bring valuable insight and energy to our efforts.”

Garrett said she looks forward to furthering the university’s internationally engaged mission. “Cornell is already deeply engaged as a global university, which is reflected in our teaching, research and creative work, as well as by our many international students, researchers, faculty and alumni,” she said, pointing to Weill Cornell Medical College-Qatar, Cornell Tech’s alliance with the Technion and the ongoing global sesquicentennial celebrations. “I am committed to working with my colleagues to increase the number of international students on our campuses; to expand our influence through innovative professional graduate programs, some delivered online, around the world; to give all of our students access to meaningful study-abroad experiences; and to continue developing strong partnerships with other top research universities around the world.”

In 2012, a faculty task force, created following Skorton’s challenge, offered more than two dozen recommendations to enhance and expand the university’s already extensive international activities. Then-Provost Kent Fuchs and Logevall – the Stephen and Madeline Anbinder Professor of History and director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies – accepted the recommendations and began to act on them.

Logevall was named Cornell’s vice provost for international affairs in 2013. In that role, he began efforts to create a new major in global affairs; support, retain and recruit internationally engaged, Ithaca-based faculty through the Einaudi Center and its programs; cultivate new international partnerships; mobilize funding for internationalization through new endowments; and lower barriers to internationalization efforts within Cornell through enhanced centralized university coordination.

“My top priorities have been to internationalize the Ithaca-based curriculum, and to reach 50 percent of undergraduate students having a meaningful international experience during their time at Cornell,” Logevall said. “The numbers are certainly going in the right direction.” He stressed his desire that Cornell students attain “global citizenship … a cross-cultural understanding not only for career reasons, but more broadly – for being the kind of engaged citizens we want them to be.”

Garrett said that she looks forward to building upon the existing international momentum and supporting faculty and students who want to increase their global connections and influence. “Our ambition is bold: We will position Cornell as the leading global research university of this century,” she said.

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