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Two years ago on approximately this day, I published the Admissions Blog’s one thousandth post.  Like the November morning when #1000 appeared, today is the day before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.  This post, however, is a rather uncelebratory number 1,394, a total that includes several odes to our national holiday.

Since last week, I have been using spare blocks of time to accomplish a little of the Thanksgiving prep.  On Friday, I shopped for food.  On Saturday, I made cranberry sauce.  On Sunday, I mixed the topping for a pie.  And so on, until I will bake as much as time allows today and then finish up tomorrow.

It seems that every year there are more and more Thanksgiving gatherings for students who are staying in town.  Last year there was a Blakeley Hall meal, and other feasts that students hosted at their apartments.  Thanksgiving is an especially nice time to reach out and include others who may not have a feast of their own.  Our family meal will also include my daughter’s roommate and my cousin’s Nepali neighbors.

Working at Fletcher, there’s a lot to be thankful for.  It’s an interesting place, loaded with inspiring people who are committed to a common goal of joining (or preparing) the next generation of international affairs professionals.  Within the Admissions Office, I am fortunate to work with a collection of characters who regularly go beyond what is expected and support each others’ work.  And they frequently make me laugh in the process.  That counts for a lot!  Not to mention all the amazing students who volunteer to help us in so many ways, from conducting interviews to writing blog posts to hosting admitted students.  We couldn’t get it all done without them!

Whether you’re in the U.S., celebrating in a remote location, or looking forward to learning more about this American holiday as a Fletcher student next year, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

(Note that the Admissions Office will be closed from this afternoon through Sunday.  We’ll be back on Monday.)


I was so wrapped up last week with responding to suggestions readers provided in my survey (additional suggestions will still be appreciated) that I neglected to make note of one of the biggest events at Fletcher each year: Simulex.  I realized my omission when I arrived at work this morning and was greeted with a sign, leftover from Saturday, saying that the entire School was booked for the day, leaving only Ginn Library for anyone not participating.

What is Simulex?  It’s a crisis management exercise, open to students with all curricular interests (that is, not limited to Security Studies).  The International Security Studies Program also invites alumni and others working in relevant fields to participate alongside students and to offer guidance and relevant information.  But before the event even starts, participants must prepare by reading the background scenario, which this year concerned a “Crisis in the Western Pacific/East Asia Region.”  Though the event has passed, I still recommend checking out the information and putting it into your mental calendar for the fall semester after you enroll.

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Since it moved to Fletcher a few years ago, the World Peace Foundation has become an ever more integral part of the community, creating opportunities for students to conduct research and participate in the organization of conferences, as well as creating awareness of important topics on the world scene.  Today I’m sharing a news-filled email that WPF sent us earlier this week.

The World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School has some exciting updates this fall that we would like to share with you:

•  We hosted an annual student seminar competition, inviting Fletcher students to conceive of a two-day seminar on any topic related to peace, broadly understood.  WPF helps the winners organize the seminar, including bringing top experts to campus, and funds the entire event.  The winners this year are: Medha Basu, David Cronin, Héctor Portillo, and Sumaya Saluja (all second-year MALD students), and Bret McEvoy (PhD candidate) for the proposal, “Masculinity: Men, Violence, and Transformation.”

•  WPF is providing core funding to the Tufts Initiative on Mass Atrocities and Genocide this academic year, a financial cushion for the initiative as multi-year fundraising efforts continue.

•  We have two new book-length publications: Alex de Waal’s The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War and The Business of Power (Polity Press 2015); and Advocacy in Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Transnational Activism (Zed Books 2015), edited by Alex de Waal with recent Fletcher graduates, Jennifer Ambrose, Casey Hogle, Trisha Taneja, and Keren Yohannes.

•  Alex de Waal’s research on mass famine released in conjunction with the Global Hunger Index recently received strong media coverage, with articles in the Washington Post, NPR, and an AP story that was picked up by The New York Times, Huffington Post and U.S. News & World Report, among others.  He also had an article in The Lancet.

•  A WPF research team led by Senior Fellow Mulugeta Gebrehiwot is working on a report requested by the African Union (AU) evaluating how the AU conceives and implements its peace missions.  The report will be released in Spring 2016, and offer recommendations to the AU on how to improve its conflict mediation, peacekeeping deployments, and post-conflict stabilization efforts.

•  In addition to our core staff, Alex de Waal, Bridget Conley-Zilkic and Lisa Avery, WPF has two Senior Fellows, Mulugeta Gebrehiwot and Dyan Mazurana; short-term fellows Sarah Nouwen (September to December) and Kenneth Nwoko (November); and has employed more than ten students this fall alone in a range of roles to help support our research projects.

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Organizers of an upcoming conference asked me to share information with blog readers who are welcome to attend!

The first-ever Fletcher School Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Conference is just around the corner on Saturday, October 31, 2015.  The conference will bring together academics, practitioners, and religious leaders to demonstrate the role that religion plays across myriad issues, spanning security, conflict resolution, human rights, and civic engagement.  The three conference panels — Security and Conflict, Rights and the State, and Politics and Identity — will provide a forum to discuss how religion affects these spheres and how an understanding of religious influences improves policy-making.

For anyone interested in attending, registration is free.  Please visit the conference website to register in advance.  This is one of two new student-led conferences this fall, along with the upcoming forum on Gender and International Affairs.


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DA-SC-92-09515My career has been unusual in that, though I’m employed by neither the military nor the Foreign Service, I have worked for two past NATO Supreme Allied Commanders and one former ambassador.  The second of the former NATO leaders is our current dean, James Stavridis, who made the community aware of the recent passing of his predecessor in both posts, Jack Galvin.  In an email, Dean Stavridis noted:

As The Fletcher School’s forward-looking and innovative leader from 1995-2000, Jack and his legacy are woven into the fabric of the school: he prompted Fletcher’s expanded focus on global business; he established a joint master’s degree in humanitarian assistance between Fletcher and the Friedman School of Nutrition; he oversaw the development of the school’s signature internet-mediated degree program for mid career professionals (GMAP); and he inspired the Institute for Human Security.

As our former Board of Overseers chair, Peter Ackerman, noted back in 2002 at a ceremony for the unveiling of the portrait of Dean Galvin that now hangs in the Ginn Library, “Jack was determined to make Fletcher a better place.  He restructured the school for a post-Cold War environment.  He put a new stamp on Fletcher and was up for any idea that was different, that would make Fletcher fly.”

While the Fletcher community mourns the passing of a great Dean, the rest of the world of course will remember General Galvin for his lifetime of service to the U.S. and its allies, capping a 44-year career in the Army with a 5-year term as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO.  As noted in the Washington Post, General Galvin was known widely as a “prototypical warrior-intellectual,” for his love of literature, commitment to academic scholarship, and mentorship to future leaders.

Many major publications, including The New York Times have run obituaries, and I will leave it to readers to learn more about his interesting career.  Instead I wanted to share a personal observation of his kindness.

Back in about 1997, well before I worked in the Admissions Office, a student working with me, Anthony, became very ill.  For a short but intensely worrisome time, his illness was a mystery.  When it was finally diagnosed — a severe case of encephalitis, contracted during his winter break in California — the information was not at all reassuring.  Fortunately, following an extended hospital stay, Anthony recovered and went on to graduate.

Where does Dean Galvin come into all this?  At the time, he was living in a Tufts-owned house with a small attached apartment.  Dean Galvin and his wife, Ginny, offered the apartment to Anthony’s father, who came to the area and stayed for many weeks until Anthony went from hospital, to rehabilitation facility, to the apartment, and finally back home.  I spent some time with Anthony’s dad, and he was incredibly grateful for the kindness and support that Dean Galvin and Ginny Galvin showed to him.  I remember thinking at the time that the extent of the dean’s support went beyond the requirements of his position, and reflected the type of care that a general might provide to the officers and soldiers under his command.

Jack Galvin was a very special individual and an interesting dean for The Fletcher School.  The School, in its current form, owes much to his leadership.

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Angela StentWhile I’m at the Boston Idealist grad school fair tonight, I’ll be missing the fall’s Community Book Talk on The Limits of Partnership: U.S.-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century, by Angela Stent.  The event is open to all of us in the community, and copies of the book were provided.  I enjoy these common reading projects, and if last year’s two book talks were any indication, this will be an interesting evening.

Here’s the information we received about Dr. Stent and her book:

Angela Stent is a leading expert on U.S. and European relations with Russia and on Russian Foreign Policy.  She has served as an advisor under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and maintains close ties with key policymakers in both countries.

Dr. Stent is Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies and Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  She is also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-chairs its Hewett Forum on Post-Soviet Affairs.

The Limits of Partnership, winner of the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Douglas Dillon prize for the best book on the practice of American Diplomacy, offers a riveting narrative on U.S.-Russian relations since the Soviet collapse and on the challenges ahead. It reflects the unique perspective of an insider recognized as a leading expert on this troubled relationship.  American presidents have repeatedly attempted to forge a strong and productive partnership only to be held hostage to the deep mistrust born of the Cold War.  For the United States, Russia remains a priority because of its nuclear weapons arsenal, its strategic location bordering Europe and Asia, and its ability to support — or thwart — American interests.  Why has it been so difficult to move the relationship forward?  What are the prospects for doing so in the future?  Is the effort doomed to fail again and again? Join us for answers to these questions and others.


Our interview program started up yesterday, with the result that a steady stream of applicants and volunteer student interviewers are in and out of the office.  It’s both really nice and also a big increase in the level of background energy, as we try to do our work.  While I’m writing, our very first Skype interview is taking place.  The student interviewer seemed comfortable being the pioneer in this new (but overdue) effort.

Classes have been in session for only three weeks, but I’m already hearing students talk about exams, review sessions, study groups, etc.  And this past Saturday, the first Foreign Language Reading Comprehension exams were offered.  Bright and early on a beautiful fall morning, hundreds of students filed into a nearby building for their exams in the language of their choice.  The options were Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean (from 9:00 a.m. to noon); Bosnian, Hebrew, Hindi, Russian, and Urdu (from 9:15 to 11:15); and French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili (from 9:30-11:00).  The time allowed for the exam corresponds (more or less) to language difficulty.  Arrangements can be made for those who wish to test in a different language.  Bi-lingual dictionaries are allowed, including traditional paper dictionaries, electronic dictionaries, and dictionary applications that have been downloaded onto a cell phone.  No internet.  You can find sample exams if you scroll down on this page.

Admissions travel continues!  While Liz tours New England colleges and universities with some of our APSIA peers, I’m doing my own mini-tour.  Kristen and I joined forces yesterday for an information session for Tufts undergraduates (ably assisted by two “Double Jumbos” — Fletcher students who graduated from the undergraduate program at Tufts).  This afternoon, I’m taking part in a panel on international development down the road at Harvard, and tomorrow I’ll be at the Idealist fair in Boston (with a 2015 Fletcher graduate, who will help extend the life of my voice in that noisy setting).

Next week will be the first week since August when I’ll simply be in the office with no travel, visits, holidays, vacation, or other special activities.  I’m looking forward to it!  If nothing else, I’ll have a little more time for the blog.  New posts from our students are coming!


There’s a nice article in Tufts Now (our online university news source) about Rizwan Ladha, F12, and his perspective on the multinational deal around Iran’s nuclear program.  (Rizwan completed the MALD program and is now a Fletcher PhD candidate.)  As you might expect, the deal has been the source of a lot of discussion at Fletcher, both informally and through formal events.  The perspective that Rizwan shares in the article is good background for further discussion.


For the second year, one of our alumni, Rockford Weitz is supporting entrepreneurial students, alumni, and faculty as Fletcher’s Entrepreneur Coach in Residence.  Through planned activities and his scheduled office hours, Rocky is bringing entrepreneurship to the front of student career planning.

Here (from an email to the community) is how Rocky describes his role at Fletcher:

What is Entrepreneurship?

Good question.  Entrepreneurship means different things to different people.  I define entrepreneurship as “problem solving with limited resources and an unclear path forward.”  By this definition, most of you will likely be entrepreneurs at some point during your career.

The entrepreneurial approach works well in many Fletcher career trajectories, including social entrepreneurship, tech-driven entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship (using entrepreneurship techniques to succeed as a change agent in large organizations in the private, public, non-profit, intergovernmental and academic sectors).

Fletcher students and alumni have launched and scaled numerous enterprises, including non-profits, technology startups, and new offices within larger organizations, such as the United Nations or the U.S. State Department.

Entrepreneur Coaching

As Entrepreneur Coach, I help Fletcher students, faculty, staff and alumni:

  • Connect with potential customers, potential investors and service providers that could help aspiring Fletcher entrepreneurs turn their ideas into viable enterprises.
  • Think through business, social, and policy ideas where entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship could be part of the solution.
  • Create business plans, go-to-market strategies, and presentations to potential customers and investors.

There are two events today linked to entrepreneurship at Fletcher.  First, Rocky will be providing an “Overview of the Tufts and Boston Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.”  He describes it as:

At this event, I will provide an overview of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support network available at Fletcher, Tufts, and the Greater Boston area.  Topics will include startup prizes (such as Fletcher D-Prize and Tufts $100K), startup accelerators, including those that do not take equity (such as MassChallenge, the world’s largest startup accelerator, located in downtown Boston) and other support resources for aspiring entrepreneurs (such as Demeter, FinTech Sandbox, District Hall, and the Venture Cafe).  Special attention will be given to resources available to aspiring social entrepreneurs and those Fletcherites interested in entrepreneurship/intrapreneurship in emerging markets.

Later in the day, Gerry Ford, F84, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Caffè Nero will speak on “The Journey of an Entrepreneur: From Start-up to Billion Dollar Company.”  Here’s the description of his talk:

Gerry Ford is Chairman and Chief Executive of Caffè Nero Group Limited, Europe’s largest independent coffee house group.  Gerry founded Caffè Nero in 1997.  He later listed Caffè Nero on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2001-2007.  In 2005, Dr. Ford was named the UK’s Entrepreneur of the Year by the Financial Times and The London Stock Exchange.  In 2007, Gerry took Caffè Nero private and today he remains the majority shareholder of the company. Currently, Caffè Nero has more than 5,500 employees in 700 stores across seven countries.  The company continues to open at a pace of a new store every four days somewhere in the world. Dr. Ford has a BA from Stanford University, a MALD from The Fletcher School/Tufts University, a MBA from INSEAD and a PhD from Oxford University.  He sits on the boards of several consumer goods businesses throughout Europe and the USA, and is a frequent speaker internationally on the topics of developing consumer brands and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is an area that has long interested Fletcher students, many of whom wish to start their own organizations.  Having Rocky Weitz has increased the available resources, both through his time and the activities that result from his residency here.

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Today I want to point blog friends to a site you shouldn’t miss.  The School has been compiling short video stories that answer the question, “Why Fletcher?”  They’re mixed among all the videos on the Fletcher YouTube page, but the easiest way to find them is to check out #whyfletcher on Facebook.  Here’s a sample:


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