While details about the seminar former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will teach at Yale next year remain scant, one thing is certain: It is likely to be a rather unusual course — at least in terms of logistics.
Among the questions that remain unresolved are where his course will be taught and the specifics of what type of security would surround his class meetings. But University officials said the security logistics of his appointment should not prove insurmountable.
Blair, whose eldest son, Euan, will graduate from a two-year master’s program in international relations at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences this spring, will be the Howland Distinguished Fellow for the 2008-’09 academic year, the University announced earlier this month. The former prime minister will teach a seminar on the topic of faith and globalization and participate in a number of public events around campus, including a lecture to the Yale community and perhaps several panel discussions.
As a former prime minister, Blair still receives protection from London’s Metropolitan Police Service, and that security detail will be with him at all times in New Haven, working in cooperation with the Yale Police Department, officials said.
But the federal government will play no part in Blair-related festivities.
“The U.S. Secret Service would have nothing to do with setting up security for Mr. Blair,” Darrin Blackford, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said.
The Secret Service, known for its impenetrable aura of dark-suited, earpiece-wearing mystery, does provide protection to visiting heads of foreign government.
But since Blair is out of office, agents will not be setting up shop on Science Hill anytime soon.
“The Secret Service would have no part of that,” Blackford explained.
But the University insists it is adept at handling the security needs of visiting dignitaries, even if Blair is of a slightly higher profile than, say, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization Director Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81, a former president of Mexico.
“We don’t anticipate any problems with providing security,” Martha Highsmith, the deputy secretary of the University, wrote in an e-mail message. “We have had a number of high-profile visitors on campus for short- and longer-term periods, so we have good experience to build on.”
And the University has one advantage: It will not have to worry about protecting Blair every day. While the former prime minister’s class will likely meet every week, Blair himself will not attend every class meeting and will come to the University perhaps every other week, University President Richard Levin said.
Details about Blair’s visit remain uncertain at this time, as the University announced his appointment weeks earlier than anticipated after a British newspaper was about to break the news of his new teaching job, according to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian. As a result, officials in the School of Management and the Divinity School — which will co-sponsor the former head of government’s class — are still finalizing the details of his appointment, and few specifics were immediately available. More information should be available at the beginning of April, said Gus Spohn, a spokesman for the Divinity School.
—Bharat Ayyar contributed reporting.