Interim Dean Robert C. Lieberman: At the Forefront of Global Public Policy Education

Today, President Lee C. Bollinger announced the appointment of SIPA Dean John H. Coatsworth as Provost of Columbia University.

Robert C. Lieberman, Vice Dean and Professor of Political Science and Public Affairs, has been appointed as Interim Dean at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

Lieberman succeeds Dean John H. Coatsworth, who was appointed by President Lee C. Bollinger as Provost of Columbia University. Lieberman will serve while an advisory group assists President Bollinger in the search for a permanent SIPA dean.

“I agree when President Bollinger says an interim year is not a year for standing still. We will build on the foundation of excellence laid by Dean Coatsworth—and his predecessors—and continue the work of retaining and recruiting the best faculty, educating the best students, and doing it in a way that helps solve the world’s problems.”

Lieberman began teaching at SIPA in 1994. He served as Chair of the Department of International and Public Affairs beginning in 2007; Vice Dean from 2009 to 2010; and again beginning in 2011.

A focal point of Lieberman’s work has been the reimagining of global public policy education—crafting a new category of intellectual endeavor and new styles of policy instruction for the 21st century. In 2011, Lieberman convened a conference on the future of global public policy education to consider its core mission as a field, focusing on intellectual foundations, curriculum, and research.

“SIPA is already a leader in the field. Now it is time to take the next leap and demand new training, research, and new ways of thinking. As we see with the economic crises, it is critical to recognize that there are no issues that aren’t global.”

Lieberman has been instrumental in the recruitment and appointment of internationally accomplished faculty to SIPA. They are the foremost scholars, researchers, and practitioners in their fields, coming from the highest levels of academic, government, nonprofit, nongovernment, and private-sector organizations.

Many of the new faculty appointments occurred after a restructuring of SIPA’s course curriculum, a process that Lieberman co-chaired. The revised curriculum, which went into effect in fall of 2009, demanded faculty for the new public, nonprofit, and financial managerial courses now included in the school’s core curriculum.

“The next five years at SIPA are going to be very exciting. You will find new faculty, even more qualified students, more interesting and relevant courses, more research centers—and global problems we can’t foresee now, but will be prepared for when they hit.”