John T.S. Keeler, Dean

Dean Keeler

Message from the Dean 2017

The 160 new students enrolling in GSPIA this fall, the class of 2019, will be with us throughout the year-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the school.  It was in the fall of 1958 that the founding dean, Donald Stone, assembled the first class—about one-fifth the size of our current group—and began charting the future of the school.  We are confident that Dean Stone would be proud to know how our institution has evolved since 1958, one year after the launch of Sputnik triggered the space race and three years before John F. Kennedy would move into the White House.  In our latest Survey of Student Satisfaction, from the spring of 2017, a record number of students said they would choose GSPIA again if they were making their decision about where to go to graduate school.  A record number of students—more than 86%--also rated the quality of teaching at GSPIA as good or excellent.  The mean student evaluation of all of the courses taught by the core faculty was 4.24 out of 5, far above the overall mean for Pitt.  And our faculty have demonstrated that it is indeed possible to be both committed teachers and first-rate scholars.  Over the past three years the GSPIA faculty have published 11 books and 54 articles, many of which have appeared in the best university presses and journals.  Especially noteworthy is the fact that since 2008 our faculty have published 6 books with Cambridge University Press, the top-ranked social science press—and 3 more CUP books are forthcoming.  The staff support for students has also proven to be outstanding; both Student Services and Career Services received their highest ratings ever in 2017.

Proud as we are of this record, it goes without saying that we face a very competitive environment and are continuing to work steadily to enhance what GSPIA has to offer.  Beginning this academic year our students will be able to benefit from the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Forum, recently established at GSPIA with the support of Ms. Hesselbein and a transfer of assets from the former Hesselbein Leadership Institute to the University of Pittsburgh.

Frances Hesselbein attended what is now the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and went on to become one of the most highly respected experts in the field of contemporary leadership development.  In 1998 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, in recognition of her leadership as CEO of Girl Scouts of the United States of America from 1976 to 1990 as well as her role as the founding president of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management. Hesselbein has received 21 honorary doctoral degrees, including one from Pitt.  In 2009 she became the first woman, and the first non-graduate, appointed to the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she taught for two years. She is the author of many books and editor-in-chief of the award-winning quarterly journal Leader to Leader, which will henceforth be published under the auspices of GSPIA.  

Under the management of Prof. Kevin Kearns, Director of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, the Hesselbein Leadership Forum will sponsor a variety of activities this year including: 1) the Hesselbein Forum Lecture Series, which will feature proven leaders and thoughtful scholars presenting state-of-the-art ideas on leadership theory and practice, with a focus on public and nonprofit organizations; 2) the Hesselbein Forum Leadership Program in International Security directed by Julia Santucci, who joins the GSPIA faculty this fall as a Senior Lecturer after twelve years of service in Washington with the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council and the U.S. Department of State; and 3) the Hesselbein Executive-in-Residence Program; Lindsey Anderson, a GSPIA alumna and former senior adviser in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will serve as the first executive-in-residence, providing mentoring to GSPIA students and counseling faculty and staff on programming and research activities.

GSPIA will also be strengthened this year through collaboration between our faculty and the new University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber).  Pitt Cyber was recently established under the direction of David Hickton, former United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, much of whose work as U.S. Attorney from 2010 to 2016 focused on combating cybercrime within a dynamic digital landscape. Hickton has been a leading advocate for cybersecurity vigilance, as well as the development of methods to defend the nation’s systems infrastructure. This year Hickton’s team will be working with faculty from GSPIA, the Law School and the new School of Computing and Information to develop an interdisciplinary research and teaching agenda designed to make Pitt a national leader in the cyber field.  Students in many GSPIA programs, especially those specializing in Security and Intelligence Studies, will thus soon benefit from expanded curricular offerings and research opportunities in this important area.

Sincerely yours,
John T.S. Keeler, Dean

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
3601 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260