ASH CARTER, who until earlier this year served as U.S. secretary of defense, will become director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs as the Belfer Professor of Technology and Global Affairs. As director, Carter will focus his scholarship on the role of innovation and technology in addressing challenges at home and around the world. Graham Allison, who has been director since 1995 will step down as director and remain on the Kennedy School faculty. 

Under Carter’s  leadership from 2015 until January of 2017, the defense department waged a stepped-up campaign against ISIL, established NATO’S new strategy for dealing with Russian aggression in Europe, executed a strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, and launched the department’s latest cyber strategy, among many major accomplishments.

“I look forward to leading this vital center and helping develop the next generation of global leaders,” Carter said. “Technology has a fundamental role to play in solving some of our nation’s and other nations’ most complex problems, and I look forward to working with the Kennedy School’s world-class scholars and students to explore how innovation can advance the public good.” 

Carter’s appointment comes with major new commitments from Robert and Renée Belfer, unwavering supporters of the Kennedy School, who are establishing not only the named professorship which will be held by Carter but also are providing support for student financial aid, research initiatives, and faculty policy engagement.   

In announcing Carter’s appointment, Dean Doug Elmendorf said: “Everyone who cares about technology and global affairs has benefited tremendously from Robert and Renée Belfer’s generous support of the Kennedy School’s work. By establishing a new professorship, endowing student fellowships, and reinforcing the research and policy engagement of our outstanding faculty, the Belfers are again helping us to move strongly forward. Ash Carter’s decision to become director makes me even more excited about the Belfer Center’s future.”

Eric Rosenbach will serve as the Belfer Center’s co-director and a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School. Rosenbach served as Carter’s chief of staff at the Pentagon, the first principal cyber advisor to the secretary of defense, and assistant secretary of defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security. 

Before becoming secretary of defense, Carter served in the department’s number-two and number-three roles. As deputy secretary and chief operating officer from 2011 to 2013, he oversaw the department’s management and personnel, and he steered its strategy and budget through the turmoil of the appropriations sequester. As undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics from 2009 to 2011, Carter led the defense department’s procurement reform and innovation agenda, the successful completion of key procurements like the KC-46 tanker, rapid support for ongoing wars, and global logistics.

Carter succeeds Graham Allison, one of the most significant figures in the history of the Kennedy School. Widely regarded as one of the “founders” of the modern Kennedy School of Government, Allison served as dean of the Kennedy School from 1977 to 1989. Through his vision of what a professional school of government could be, the school grew substantially, attracting outstanding faculty, creating numerous new research centers, and establishing rigorous academic standards for the training of public policy leaders.                             

In 1995 Allison became director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the hub of the school’s efforts in research, teaching, and training in international security and diplomacy, environmental and resource issues, and science and technology policy.  For the past four years, the Belfer Center has been named the top-ranked university-affiliated research center in the world according to the Global Go-To Think Tank Index at the University of Pennsylvania.

Allison also served as special advisor to the secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan and as assistant secretary of defense for policy and plans under President Bill Clinton. Twice he has been awarded the Department of Defense’s highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Medal. Allison will continue as the Douglas Dillon Professor of Government.

“It is impossible to overestimate Graham Allison’s vision and energy in making the Kennedy School and the Belfer Center the successful and influential organizations they are today,” Elmendorf said. “We will be forever grateful for his incomparable contributions to the Belfer Center, and we look forward to his continued advice and vigorous participation in all of our activities.”

“I have been proud to lead the Belfer Center for more than two decades, and I am grateful to hand the baton to my good friend Ash Carter to lead the institution we love into the future,” Allison said. “I appreciate and applaud the extraordinary efforts of Bob Belfer and Doug Elmendorf that have made this happen.”

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