Never mind the University’s offer of health insurance, retirement funds, or access to the Tufts gym, the most rewarding benefit of working at Fletcher is the opportunity to get to know our fantastic students. Unlike access to the gym, it is a benefit that I take advantage of every day. And that’s why the joy that students feel at their own graduation is mixed with a little sadness for me and other members of the Fletcher faculty and staff. It isn’t that we’ll never hear from these people again — in fact, there are some beloved members of the class of 2008 due back for this weekend’s reunion — but the nature of our contact inevitably changes.
Every year, I try to recognize those students who have regularly brightened my day. There’s no way to cover the entire list — this is a blog, not an encyclopedic resource — but I’ll single out a few groups, not that thanking them is a substitute for seeing them regularly.
For starters, there are the stalwart Admissions Interns who do the widest possible array of substantive and trivial tasks for us, always with good cheer. Farewell and good luck to Katie and (Dear) Ariel! Then there are the students who are selected to serve on the Admissions Committee. Thank you to this year’s rock star team of Lily, Bernardo, Felix, Margot, and Hillary (who did double duty as an Admissions Intern, starting her work with us before classes began two years ago). Thanks, too, to Elspeth, a Januarian who did her Admissions Committee service a year ago, but also spent some time with us this spring, turning data messes into beautiful reports. And more thanks to Violet, Juan Sebastian, and Heidi, who participated on the MIB Admissions Committee either this year or last. Finally, thanks and good luck to our wonderful, generous, and dedicated volunteer interviewers.
And, of course, there are dozens of others. There’s Patrick, whom I’ve known seemingly forever. And Maliheh whom I’ve so enjoyed working with on the blog. And PhD students including Erik, Courtney, and Ethan, all of whom have also supported the work of the Admissions Office. From here, it becomes difficult to isolate individuals, but thanks to the many people whose minute of conversation is well worth stopping for as we cross the Hall of Flags. Or students whose applications I promoted in Admissions Committee meetings, but who don’t know that, and also don’t know that I watch their progress through Fletcher to be sure they were a good bet. Or students who pepper the Social List with interesting (or “interesting”) bits of news, analysis, information, or humor, keeping us informed about students’ interests and concerns.
Naturally, I hope that all of these students and all their classmates enjoy their Commencement weekend and bask in the pride of friends and family. But don’t forget us after you leave Fletcher! Send a note once in a while. Connect with us via your preferred social medium. Most important: Do great things in your work and community that we hear about in the years to come. We’ll miss you, but we wish you all the best!
For Fletcher students, the graduation ceremony is merely the (almost) final event in a weekend of togetherness. With the soon-to-be graduates only barely recovered from dawn to post-dusk Dis-Orientation activities, Commencement weekend kicks off on Friday (i.e. tomorrow) with breakfast and a graduation rehearsal at 8:00 a.m. The afternoon is unprogrammed (time to take visiting family around town for some sightseeing), but many will meet up again at 6:00 p.m. for a New England clambake, which is also the kick-off event for the Fletcher alumni reunion that runs in parallel this weekend.
Fletcher decided years ago to keep the focus on students during Sunday’s graduation ceremony, and a Class Day event was created on the Saturday of Commencement weekend for speeches, presentation of prizes, etc. The speaker for this year’s Class Day program will be our own Dean Stephen Bosworth, who is stepping down after more than a decade as dean. I’m sure it will be a bittersweet moment. Lunch will follow.
And then, finally, Sunday arrives. Students will kick off the day with a champagne breakfast, featuring toasts by the students selected by a vote of their peers. Champagne imbibed, students head off to the all-University ceremony (where Fletcher students are well known for their extra loud cheers when their degrees are awarded as a group), followed by the Fletcher ceremony, where each graduating student is handed a diploma by the dean (photos will be taken — smile!). Speeches will be delivered by peer-selected students and the recipient of the Paddock Prize for excellence in teaching, which went this year to Carolyn Gideon.
When the ceremony concludes, everyone works their way over to lunch via many hugs and well-wishes. All in all, a lovely event.
It’s a transitional week — no longer the spring semester, but not yet the summer break. Students are either gone (off to interesting internships) or invisible. Among the invisible, many are participating in the Fletcher tradition known as Dis-Orientation. A fitting balance to the Orientation program that starts each academic year, Dis-Orientation is less preparatory and more celebratory. Here’s part of the Dis-O line-up, each event coordinated by a different student or team of students:
- Tours: Boston Duck Tour, Freedom Trail Tour
- Downtown outings, including a picnic in the Boston Public Garden, and a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts
- Parties, including a “Stoplight Party” (a party of multiple parties at the Fletcher-student-occupied Green House, Yellow House, and Red House)
- Movies, including (appropriately) The Graduate
- Sports, including a Red Sox Game against the Minnesota Twins
- Exercise, including a bike trip
- Farther-flung outings, including an amusement park
- And many activities ending with -ing: whale watching, clubbing, poker playing, storytelling (organized by our own student blogger, Roxanne), trampolining, and pub crawling.
The week wraps up with a class photo on Friday, after which graduating students will turn their attention to the weekend’s Commencement activities. More on that tomorrow.
Casey and Kamil, this year’s editors of Praxis updated the community on the journal’s newest edition. Here’s their news.
Last week we published the 28th edition of PRAXIS: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security. Today we’ve posted a blog introducing the issue. Check it out for links to the issue and all the articles!
We’ve published four articles this year and two Views from the Field:
- Tools of Change: Long-Term Inclusion in Peace Processes, by Adan E. Suazo
- Toward a Child-Oriented Approach to Reparations: Reflecting on the Best Interests of Child Victims of Armed Conflict, by S. Marie Miano
- The International Criminal Court as a Human Security Agent, by Lauren Marie Balasco
- Wellbeing Economics and Buen Vivir: Development Alternatives for Inclusive Human Security, by Tara Ruttenberg
- Tamil Sri Lanka in the Shadow of the Civil War,by Evan Thomas Rees
- Work and Play: Schools in Urban Slums, by Madeeha Ansari
Casey and Kamil
Tagged with: Praxis
Like Jason Taylor, Katy Bondy is an Admissions Office favorite. I can still picture her working at one of the computers. Katy’s story will most likely be the last for the 2007 class (unless one of her classmates surprises me with a post) and I’ll be moving along to the Class of 2008 soon after their five-year reunion next weekend. But first, let’s hear Katy’s story:
Before arriving at Fletcher, I worked in Washington, DC for a few years at a think tank where I focused on the Balkans and Eastern Europe. It was an interesting job where I learned a lot about the former Yugoslavia, but it was primarily administrative and I was looking for something more. Fortunately, a good friend at work, who happened to be a 2000 Fletcher grad,was patient about answering all of my questions about international relations graduate schools. It didn’t take me long to decide that Fletcher was the best fit for me, particularly after I visited the school and was interviewed by a Fletcher-student, Nirmalan, who received his MALD in 2006 and is now completing his Fletcher PhD.
While at Fletcher, I dove into my studies and the Fletcher community. I naturally gravitated towards courses on International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and I still use the skills from those classes today: Focus on interests, not positions! I also created my own Field of Study by performing analyses on post-conflict countries, such as Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Somalia. My favorite classes were with Professors Drezner, Martel, Babbitt, Shultz, and Chayes.
I received a great education at Fletcher and I believe it’s where I learned how to think more independently and more broadly. But what stays with me as much as what I learned in my classes are the bonds and friendships that I formed with members of the Fletcher community. I fondly remember the late night partying, greasy spoon breakfasts near the Tufts campus, and spending my days studying or writing papers in Ginn Library.
After Fletcher, like Jason, I was also selected to be a Presidential Management Fellow and I joined the Department of State where I worked on reconstruction and stabilization issues. After spending a few months in Dhaka, Bangladesh for work, I decided to join the U.S. Foreign Service. My first assignment was in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which I loved, and my present assignment is in Manila, Philippines.
But no matter where I am in the world, the Fletcher network serves me well. I maintain strong ties with many of the friends I made at Fletcher, but I’m also constantly forging new friendships with other alums I’ve met since graduating. For me, the connections and bonds you make while at Fletcher are the most important (and the most fun!) aspect of your Fletcher education.
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
As much as I love to see students at Fletcher — hanging out in the Hall of Flags, sitting in the library, wandering into a classroom — there’s also something nice about seeing them outside their usual habitat. That would be one reason I enjoy the annual “where is Fletcher” video. The other reason is the sheer joyfulness of it. So, blog friends, pull on your dancing shoes, and join Fletcher students (as well as our outgoing and incoming academic deans) as they dance their way around the world.
Time for another round of thanks and farewell to a graduating student. Maliheh contributed several posts to the blog this year, despite a heavy in-class and out-of-class workload, and a PhD admissions process that involved twenty schools and one lucky program that she has chosen to attend. I first “met” Maliheh more than a year before she enrolled in the MALD program, when she first corresponded with our office. Once I met her, I became a huge fan. As much as I’ll miss her at Fletcher, I wish her the very best in her coming years of academic toil. But before Maliheh leaves Fletcher, she offers this last post.
It is just that time of the year when everyone at Fletcher is finishing exams and preparing for their upcoming internship or new job. I was preparing for my own internship last year at this time. Everyone would tell me about Fletcher’s incredibly rich alumni network, but before experiencing it myself, I had no clear idea what a valuable resource this network can be.
From the first day I started my work at the World Bank, I tried to expand my professional connections by networking with people in other departments at the bank. To my surprise, in almost every department I could find a Fletcher alum with whom I could meet and talk. Even non-Fletcher people knew very well about Fletcher and would remind me that two current World Bank vice presidents are Fletcher alumni.
Working in the MENA region at the bank, it was not uncommon to hear people speaking in Arabic or Farsi, which I also used in speaking with my supervisor most of the time. You can imagine that it is not easy to pick out English words exchanged in the middle of a conversation that is not in English, but “Fletcher” is a different kind of English word! One day, in the midst of a long conversation in Farsi with my supervisor, and in a quite crowded venue, I said “Fletcher” to refer to a specific theory I had learned in one of my classes, and then returned to Farsi for the remainder of the conversation. The woman sitting next to us picked out that one word and turned to me. She asked, “I heard you say Fletcher. Are you a Fletcher alum or student?” And a very nice conversation followed from there! Later I thought again about what I had heard before coming to the World Bank about Fletcher’s network, and felt very proud to be part of this extensive and supportive community!
Tagged with: Student Stories
The announcement of the appointment of James Savridis as Fletcher’s new dean hit my inbox today. Read below the letter to the community from Tufts Provost David Harris, and you can also refer to the press release on the Fletcher website:
Dear Members of the Tufts Community,
I write today with good news. Following an extensive search that considered candidates from around the world, we have selected Admiral James Stavridis as the next Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Admiral Stavridis graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and later earned a Masters degree and a Ph.D. from Fletcher. He serves currently as Commander of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander. Previously Admiral Stavridis led the U.S. Southern Command, was charged with leading a critical revision of Navy strategies and tactics after 9/11, and commanded a number of Navy ships and groups.
Admiral Stavridis thoroughly impressed our search committee with his tremendous enthusiasm for Fletcher, his keen understanding of his own strengths and limitations, his track record of building teams and organizations, his eagerness to engage internal and external audiences in support of Fletcher and Tufts, his extraordinary leadership skills, his demonstrated commitment to diversity, and his depth of knowledge and experiences across several areas that are key to the Fletcher mission—diplomacy, security studies, international organizations, and politics.
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.
Admiral Stavridis will begin his term on July 1, 2013. He succeeds Dean Stephen Bosworth, who has served with distinction since 2001.
David R. Harris
Provost and Senior Vice President
Through this past Monday, Fletcher looked like it did at any other moment in the semester. Then classes ended and study days began. Exams began yesterday and will continue until next Wednesday, but students have already started to peel away, and many fewer first-year students will be around next Monday than were here earlier this week. It’s only a matter of a week or two before staff are looking like this deer, wondering, “Where is everybody?”
That doesn’t mean that students, faculty, and staff are letting go of the semester easily. Fletcher Follies, a night of fun, closed out the last day of classes. Last night our incredibly talented students (and even some professors) arranged and performed the Fletcher Spring Recital. PhD students will hold a “come lunch with us” event today. The Extreme Inclusion Conference was held yesterday, with meetings today among practitioners. Tomorrow, Fletcher will be the site of an alumni event that happens to include our graduate, Farah Pandith, in addition to former Tufts undergraduates. Overall, the Fletcher calendar doesn’t make it clear that the academic year is coming to an end.
I’ll be honest, staff members enjoy the first quiet weeks of the summer. Suddenly, we’ll find ourselves completing projects that were perpetually on the to-do list throughout the semester. But productivity only goes so far in keeping us happy, and we’ll miss having the rest of the community here with us each day. All the more reason to enjoy next week when students are still around.
Our next Five-Year Update comes from Amlan Saha, who demonstrates true Fletcheresque qualities in a first sentence that includes words from Serbo-Croatian and Arabic and references to three geographic areas. His photo adds a third geographic area — it was taken in Guatemala. Here’s Amlan’s story:
It all started in 2001, when, over some Slovak slivovica on a felucca in the Nile, a fellow traveler who had just finished work in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer enthused about her plans to study public policy in graduate school. I was already thinking about going back to school, but until then had spared no thought for anything other than an MBA.
Since graduating from the National University of Singapore with a degree in engineering in 1998, I had worked at a national research laboratory, set up an internet/telecoms company, which went bust in 2001 along with the collapse of the dotcom bubble, and then worked for the German engineering giant Siemens. In short, technology and business summed up my pre-Fletcher professional experience.
But I was also a nerd (still am!) who loved politics far more than sports. At around the same time that I was giving shape to my graduate school dream, oil prices hit $35 a barrel, climbing about 300 percent in just 18 months. Listening to the talking heads in the following weeks provided a timely reminder that in the business of energy, geopolitics and regulation were never far away. I was onto something.
Because my undergraduate degree was in engineering, I still wanted to do an MBA, but the conversation on the boat in Egypt led me to explore programs that brought together public policy, business decision making, and national security. The possibility of shaping political processes that create rules, regulations, and programs to impact society was exciting.
In 2004, I started attending the Fletcher (MALD) and HEC Paris (MBA) dual degree program.
The MBA part of my program, which I completed before arriving in Medford, focused on economics and finance. At Fletcher, therefore, I dived headlong into public policy and international security.
Fletcher’s MALD curriculum was flexible enough to let me to create my own “Public Policy Analysis” Field of Study from the long list of courses on offer. In fact, the list was so long, all incredibly good and tempting, that letting me choose my own classes was a bit like giving a kid the key to the candy store. I also cross-registered at the Harvard Law School.
I found Prof. Gideon’s classes particularly valuable. Skills I picked up in her classes have been extremely helpful in modeling real-life policy conundrums at work since graduation.
After graduating from Fletcher, I joined the strategic energy/environmental consulting firm M.J. Bradley and Associates. At MJB&A, I assist energy companies to navigate regulatory and market issues, assess economic implications of environmental regulations, and drive wholesale electricity market development.
Uniquely satisfying rewards at work include, among others, having the Chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate refer to my analysis when discussing energy legislation and a Congressman use my work as a prop to explain to constituents his support for an energy bill.
I am currently a Vice President at the firm.
I also write (less frequently than I would like to) a blog.
Tagged with: Five-Year Updates
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