The first of the guest bloggers this month is Ian Pilarczyk, the Associate Director of Fletcher’s new LL.M. Program in International Law. Though the Admissions Office handles most of the administrative process for LL.M. applicants, Ian also connects with prospective students through interviews and visits. In today’s blog, Ian introduces himself and describes his work.

I spent a few days this summer in the Adirondack Mountains: swimming, reading by the lake, and reflecting on the academic year that is rapidly approaching. There’s something about the lapping of water on the shore as one sits, engrossed in a book, that makes time seem to stand still! T.S. Eliot, an old favorite, was on my reading list, which is perhaps why “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” has been wafting through my mind, and has made its way into this blog entry, my first.

And how should I begin?

I will begin by stating a truism, that vacations are always too short and time sprints on. I scarcely know where the past six months have gone since I joined the Fletcher community, but it has been a marvelous experience. I came by way of a rather circuitous route that took me through McGill University several times, as a student, researcher, and adjunct faculty member. Being a graduate of the LL.M. and Doctor of Civil Law programs at McGill, I am keenly aware that programs such as these can be a remarkable learning experience.

At Fletcher, I hope to contribute my background as we establish what we intend will be one of the most highly regarded LL.M. programs in the world. A tall order to be sure, but I think eminently achievable given Fletcher’s strengths. My first few weeks were, in a word, overwhelming…but now I’m watching things fall into place. I admit to occasional bursts of near-panic about overlooked details or over whether things will go smoothly. No doubt there will be hiccups along the way, but I’m confident that the students in this inaugural class will have a truly exemplary learning experience. I look forward to interacting with them, answering their questions, putting faces to the names.

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.

Every hour seems to bring a new challenge and a new opportunity. Among them, a partner at a downtown law firm has just offered to host our first welcome reception for the LL.M. students and the Tufts Lawyers Association, and after a flurry of emails we finalize the details. I learn by email that a leading human rights advocate and constitutional expert, who has spear-headed the legal challenges to the Guantanamo Bay detentions, will be in Boston in October and would love to speak to our students, so we begin discussing possible dates.

The two-day conference we are organizing in November in conjunction with Paris II, the American Society of International Law, and the French Embassy has come together nicely, and will include many leading luminaries in the field of international criminal justice and human rights. This morning, LL.M. director Michael Glennon forwarded a note from a long-time UN official who has recently retired. I invite him to speak at the conference and he warmly accepts.

I am finalizing a schedule for the LL.M. High Table, a semi-monthly luncheon series, trying to work around the many conflicting activities.

Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

We decide to have the inaugural High Table as a dinner during Orientation Week, which will be a wonderful opportunity to get to know each other; I am sure that the High Table will become an honored tradition at Fletcher. Many ideas for the Capstone in France in May 2009 are swirling about, but that must remain a project for another day.

And soon, we will gear up for the flood of new applications, which I await with a marvelous sense of expectancy. I look forward to reading the essays, immersing myself in the fascinating life stories so many of them reflect. I receive a considerable number of inquiries from prospective applicants, giving me a précis of their background and asking if they are competitive candidates.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

I don’t blame people for asking – no one wishes to invest time and effort in a fruitless endeavor, after all – but I find these the most difficult questions with which I have to grapple. Each application is read in detail by Admissions Office staff, as well as by the LL.M. Admissions Committee, and I certainly wouldn’t substitute my judgment for theirs, so I am never quite sure what to say. I usually suggest that if Fletcher seems like a good fit, then they should apply. I also encourage applicants to schedule an interview if they are able, as they are wonderful ways to learn more about each other.

Oh, do not ask “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

I keep interviews informal and conversational, and so far have enjoyed all of them – and I hope the applicants would say the same.

Time to turn back and descend the stair…

Thanks for reading, and to Jessica for inviting me, and I look forward to popping in again.


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