Ambassador John Menzies, Former Dean of the School of Diplomacy, Dies at 73

Lauren-Marie Diawatan
Campus News Editor

The Honorable Ambassador John K. Menzies, who acted as the Dean of Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations from 2007-2013, died on March 26, 2022, in Morristown, New Jersey. He was 73 years old. 

The Ambassador had a decorated career in the United States Foreign Service, contributing greatly to Eastern European democracy. In an interview with the Diplomatic Envoy, School of Diplomacy Dean Courtney Smith described Ambassador Menzies as a “student-oriented dean,” who, through his career as a Foreign Service Officer, understood the importance of bridging theory and practice when creating opportunities for students during his time at Seton Hall.

Ambassador Menzies developed the Sergio Vieira de Mello Visiting Scholar Program and the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Program at the School of Diplomacy with this connection between theory and practice in mind. The Visiting Scholar Program provides students the opportunity to interact with scholars and United Nations officials through hands-on workshops and research discussions, while the Post-Conflict Program sought to teach students how to address issues within societies that have experienced conflict. 

The former dean’s extensive network from his Foreign Service career helped introduce real-world connections in establishing these programs and further opportunities for the School of Diplomacy. He brought in a great number of speakers to the School of Diplomacy—in one instance, Menzies’ past role as Chief of Mission in Kosovo allowed him to create a program where new Kosovar diplomats and civil society representatives were trained at the School of Diplomacy. 

Dean Smith recounted Ambassador Menzies’s interest in the development of his students, which was especially prevalent during the school’s international studies tours. He accompanied tours, which operated as diplomatic delegations, to the European Union and China. Following meetings at the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, Ambassador Menzies would take the time to ask students for their key takeaways to ensure they understood the importance of their experiences and opportunities.

When reflecting on his own working relationship with Ambassador Menzies, Dean Smith emphasized how the former ambassador was a great colleague and friend to work with. Smith explained that after leaving Seton Hall, Ambassador Menzies enjoyed hearing about the progress of the School of Diplomacy.

Ambassador Menzies was born in November 1948 in Pittsfield, Illinois. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in German from the University of Arkansas, then earned his doctorate degree in German from the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout his time in the Foreign Service, Ambassador Menzies held posts in Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Bulgaria. He was one of the founders of the American University of Bulgaria (AUBG), appointed as Ambassador to the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo in 1996, and later became the Chief of Mission in Kosovo from 2001-2002. Ambassador Menzies also worked in various roles within the State Department and the United States Mission to the United Nations. 

After he retired from his career in the Foreign Service in 2002, Ambassador Menzies pursued an academic career and became the president of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. Following his tenure at Graceland, he became the dean of the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall in 2007 and served until 2013. In 2012-2015, he was on the AUBG Board and served as a University Council Member. Later on, he became President of the American University of Kurdistan and then Vice President for International Relations at the American University of Iraq-Baghdad from 2018 to 2021.

Ambassador Menzies is survived by behind his daughters Lauren, Alexandra, Morgan, his granddaughter Dylan, and his brother Jim.

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