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Eliot Cohen successfully completes two-year term as Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS, will return as Merrill Center Director in 2022


This week marks the end of an era for the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington. Eliot A. Cohen will complete his two-year term on June 30 as the ninth dean of one of the nation’s preeminent graduate schools of global affairs.
During his tenure, Cohen – a foreign policy scholar and former State Department official – successfully led SAIS through the largest organizational and curricular changes in the school’s recent history. He and his team brought fiscal balance to the school, improved integration of the three SAIS campuses in Washington, Bologna, Italy and Nanjing, China, and exceeded fundraising targets by 25 percent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SAIS created more than two dozen online courses and launched two new online degree programs. Cohen also addressed diversity, equity and inclusion at a level that resulted in tangible change at SAIS, including improvements in student and faculty pipeline development, diversity programming, and expansion of the school’s presence and partnerships with historically black colleges and universities and other external entities that support diversity in international affairs.
In his three decades at SAIS, Cohen created the Strategic Studies program and founded the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies. From 1991 to 1993, he directed and edited the official study of air power in the first Iraq war, The Gulf War Air Power Survey. Between 2007 and 2009, he served as Counselor of the U.S. Department of State, during which he advised Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on matters involving Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. Cohen also served as a special adviser on foreign and defense policy to Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign. He has written several books on strategy including The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force and Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime.
Cohen, who has taught at SAIS since 1990, begins a one-year sabbatical on July 1 during which he plans to pen two new books – one about William Shakespeare and the other on Theodore Roosevelt. When he returns to Johns Hopkins in fall 2022, he will relaunch the Merrill Center that he founded and serve as its director. At Merrill, Cohen plans a greater emphasis on policy-relevant research and inquiry, focused on three core issues: the Sino-American strategic competition; advanced technology and the changing nature of contemporary war; and national security and liberal democracy. The Center will also support SAIS’ new Master of Arts in Strategy, Cybersecurity and Intelligence, and assist with the development of innovative teaching methods, particularly in the area of leadership education. Cohen will also retain his position as the school’s Robert E. Osgood Professor.   

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Johns Hopkins SAIS

A division of Johns Hopkins University, the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) is a global institution that offers students an international perspective on today's critical issues. For more than 75 years, Johns Hopkins SAIS has produced great leaders, thinkers, and practitioners of international relations. Public leaders and private sector executives alike seek the counsel of the faculty, whose ideas and research inform and shape policy. Johns Hopkins SAIS offers a global perspective across three campus locations: Bologna, Italy; Nanjing, China; and Washington, D.C. The school's interdisciplinary curriculum is strongly rooted in the study of international economics, international relations, and regional studies, preparing students to address multifaceted challenges in the world today.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2021