Tony Blair to serve as visiting professor next year

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will teach a seminar at Yale next year as a visiting fellow, the University announced Friday.

Blair — whose eldest son, Euan, is enrolled in a two-year master’s program in international relations at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences — will also participate in various events around campus as part of his appointment as the Howland Distinguished Fellow for the 2008-’09 academic year, the University said.

Blair finished his 10-year stint as prime minister in June and later this year will launch a foundation aimed at fostering interfaith dialogue. Blair’s course — to be organized by the School of Management and the Divinity School — will focus on issues of faith and globalization.

“The appointment of Mr. Blair provides a tremendous opportunity for our students and our community,” University President Richard Levin said in a statement Friday.

“As the world continues to become increasingly inter-dependent, it is essential that we explore how religious values can be channeled toward reconciliation rather than polarization,” Levin continued. “Mr. Blair has demonstrated outstanding leadership in these areas and is especially qualified to bring his perspective to bear. We are honored that he is planning to join the Yale community.”

The Howland Distinguished Fellowship, created in 1915, recognizes a “citizen of any country in recognition of some achievement of marked distinction in the field of literature or fine arts or the science of government.”

Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi once held the appointment, as did the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and journalist Sir Alistair Cooke.

It was not immediately clear how the University lured Blair to the post, although it has had success in the past courting former foreign heads of government for teaching appointments. Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81, who served in that post from 1994 to 2000, now serves as the head of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.

Levin did pay a visit to the United Kingdom in late October; that trip, however, was for fundraising purposes, he told the News at the time. Never did he mention running into Blair — or any other former prime ministers — along the way.

Yale’s announcement, meanwhile, did not go into detail about whether undergraduates would have a chance to participate in Blair’s class. University Spokeswoman Helaine Klasky was not immediately available for comment.

Comments