By Gabi Hunt and Felipe Bueno
Managing Editor and Editor-In-Chief
On September 8, the School of Diplomacy and International Relations held its Dean’s Welcome event, as it does every year, to greet students old and new and to honor the beginning of a new academic year. This revered tradition is so beloved because it highlights the best aspect of the School of Diplomacy: its professionalism and inclusivity towards all members regardless of background.
Despite its annual occurrence, the Welcome Barbecue this year was different. The cherished event brought a larger turnout than ever before, and the atmosphere was energized by tradition: 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the School of Diplomacy.
As McQuaid Hall’s west lawn began to fill with bustling bodies, both new and returning students congregated to enjoy the barbecue and its warm weather. Students, Staff, and Faculty sat together to break bread and discuss everything from their summer vacations to their current research endeavors. Associate Dean of External Affairs Elizabeth Halpin led opening remarks honoring this special anniversary, highlighting the School’s accomplishments over the past two decades.
In particular, she emphasized the School’s commitment to creating a diverse environment of students from around not only the U.S., but also the world, and its cultivation of a professional environment to prepare all students to become global leaders. She also underscored the School’s strides to become the most preeminently engaged international affairs college with the U.N., referencing the School’s own founding in collaboration with the United Nations Association of the United States of America.
Following her warm welcome, Dean Halpin introduced Andrea Bartoli, the Dean of the School of Diplomacy. In classic fashion, Dean Bartoli’s optimism and deep love for the school exuded through his words and actions.
Characteristic of the School as a whole, Dean Batoli provoked introspection and placed individuals at center of international affairs. In an exercise performed by faculty, staff, and students alike, Bartoli showed that many of the world’s challenges are analogous to the challenges that individuals face when striving for personal and professional development.
“If one gets better, all will benefit,” Bartoli proclaimed, his words a manifestation of the school’s strategic goal. “If I get better at being the Dean everyone will have a lighter burden, a greater reach, and longer path. We must take ourselves seriously. If we do not take ourselves seriously nobody will.” While the Dean’s words instilled a sense of community, they also issued a challenge to the incoming students. “How would you know that you are the best student that you could be?” he pressed.
The Dean’s Welcome is less like the passing of a torch and more like the presenting of a gift, “The first 20 years that we are closing now are yours. The new 20 will be ours together,” proclaimed the Dean.
The School’s mission to prepare our students to become global leaders is very much a gift that places responsibility on individuals, who will hopefully go on to serve the world as leaders. While the School of Diplomacy’s success has undoubtedly been propagated by its world-class faculty and staff, the role of our student’s cannot be downplayed in the shaping of the School.
Indeed, much has happened in the first twenty years of the School of Diplomacy. The School has enjoyed visits from high-profile leaders, distinguished practitioners, and peacemakers in the field through its Global Leaders Forum: special guests include Kofi Annan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Leymah Gbowee, and Samantha Power.
Through the Tom and Ruth Sharkey Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program and Sergio Vieira de Mello Endowed Visiting Chair in the Practice of Post-Conflict Diplomacy, the School has brought in former special coordinators, representatives, and diplomats to serve as guest lecturers and adjunct faculty. Hugh Dugan, who served as a career diplomat in the U.S. Department of State for 32 years and was appointed a Sharkey Scholar in 2015, was present at the Welcome and will be teaching a course this semester.
Over the years, the School of Diplomacy has built connections with the U.N., Supreme Court, and most recently, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, where at least one position per semester is reserved for a School of Diplomacy student. In addition to these connections, the School boasts a popular Washington D.C. semester exchange program, where students can take courses with Diplomacy faculty and receive Seton Hall credit while interning full-time in the Capital.
The Dean’s words remain true: the actions of students that have helped nurture these relationships are a gift to all those who came after them. In that sense, the school’s celebration of 20 years is not a reflection of the past, but a celebration of the future and of the leaders who will come to shape it.