Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2023

Hopkins taps Clinton advisor for new SAIS dean

By TANISHK SINHA | October 2, 2021



Steinberg worked in the Clinton administration and later in the State Department under Obama.

Former deputy secretary of state to Hillary Clinton James Steinberg will assume the position of dean of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Nov. 1. He currently serves as the university professor of social science, international affairs and law at the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University. 

Steinberg will succeed Eliot Cohen, dean of SAIS from 2019 to 2021, and Kent Calder, interim dean of SAIS and director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies.

Steinberg completed his bachelor’s at Harvard College and professional doctorate in law at Yale Law School. He went on to serve as deputy national security adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 2000 and Clinton’s personal representative in the 1998 and 1999 Group of Eight summits. 

He also served as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution from 2001 to 2005 and dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin from 2005 to 2008. From 2009 to 2011, Steinberg worked under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Calder discussed Steinberg’s experience and preparedness for the position in an interview with The News-Letter, claiming that Steinberg’s time with both Secretary and President Clinton has prepared him with the resources to lead SAIS.

“[Steinberg] will be an even more important global agenda setter,” he said. “I think the most important thing is his time as deputy secretary of state and the network from the early days of the Clinton administration, which includes a number of key figures in the Biden administration.”

Calder explained that the role of SAIS is also evolving due to the role of Hopkins in the COVID-19 pandemic and the Coronavirus Resource Center. Calder claims that Hopkins and SAIS have the potential to increase their influence over the next few years. He accordingly emphasized the gravity of Steinberg’s position.

“Dean-to-be Steinberg will be one of the most important [deans in] our history,” Calder said.

He discussed his goals as incoming dean in an interview with The News-Letter, noting that Hopkins and SAIS have played unique roles in shaping public life in the United States. For Steinberg, what makes Hopkins stand out as an institution is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and its role as a global leader in emerging fields like biomedical engineering, public health and applied physics.

Steinberg expressed his excitement for his new position.

“For me, this was a wonderful opportunity to build on what I’ve done in a variety of other institutions both academic and government and to engage with a great group of people to help deal with the great challenges we’re facing,” he said.

Steinberg acknowledged that his role as dean of SAIS will center on problems unique to the 21st century and will be influenced predominantly by growing interdependence and fast-emerging technologies. 

“It’s that ability to recognize that the nature of the problems on the international level — whether it’s climate change, pandemic and disease; the emergence of AI; biotechnology and bioengineering — pose a different kind of problem than the problems of international relations in the 19th or even the 20th century,” he said.

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