Department of Political Science chair Steven Wilkinson will succeed Ian Shapiro GRD ’83 LAW ’87 as the next Henry R. Luce Director of the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, according to a facultywide announcement on Tuesday from University Provost Benjamin Polak.
Wilkinson’s appointment comes three months after Shapiro resigned from the position on Jan. 17. According to Polak’s announcement, Wilkinson has conducted research on the causes of ethnic violence, corruption in politics and civil-military politics in South Asia. In the past, Wilkinson has served on a number of University advisory groups, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate Implementation Committee, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on International Affairs and the recent Provost’s Advisory Committee on the Future of the Jackson Institute. Since Wilkinson will step down as chair for the Department of Political Science and begin his new post on July 1, the FAS Dean’s Office will soon begin a search to identify his successor, the announcement said.
“MacMillan has, under Ian Shapiro’s leadership, provided unmatched support for faculty and students from across Yale to engage with the history, languages, and politics and other important aspects of the world’s major regions,” Wilkinson said in an email to the News on Tuesday. “MacMillan support has also enabled faculty and students to collaborate on broader interdisciplinary projects that deal with important issues such as conflict, poverty, or migration. That support is key both to MacMillan and to Yale, and one of the big reasons I came here.”
Shapiro could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
While Wilkinson said it is still “too early” to talk about the particular goals he has for the MacMillan Center, he will take time to engage with the faculty, staff and students who work most closely with the councils and programs.
The search committee that appointed Wilkinson consisted of eight professors, including Department of Economics chair Dirk Bergemann and FAS Dean Tamar Gendler. In an interview with the News, Vice President for Global Strategy Pericles Lewis, who led the committee, said they only considered tenured Yale professors to succeed Shapiro’s post.
“We consulted around 30 faculty members and received their recommendations,” Lewis said. “Professor Wilkinson was named very frequently, but we compiled a list of five candidates and submitted [the names] to President Salovey.”
Lewis added that Wilkinson’s research focus on South Asia made him a particularly strong candidate because he seemed to understand the nature of area studies. Faculty members in the political science department also praised Wilkinson’s leadership as the department chair, Lewis said.
Julia Adams, sociology professor and a member of the committee, told the News that Wilkinson was a “superb” choice because of his combination of academic scholarship, administration experience and ability to think “imaginatively” about how to enhance faculty and student research.
“Under Ian Shapiro’s excellent leadership, the MacMillan Center has been an ecumenical institution. It has embraced cross-disciplinary academic initiatives of the highest order,” she said. “I have no doubt but that Steven Wilkinson will build on this great tradition.”
In an interview with the News in January, Lewis said that some MacMillan-affiliated faculty members have recently called for increased focus on various world regions and on natural sciences. Still, Lewis said that MacMillan is unlikely to seek “any major change in direction” after the new director is appointed.
Under Shapiro’s leadership, the former Yale Center for International and Area Studies was renamed the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center following a major donation from Whitney MacMillan ’51 and his wife, Betty, in 2006. During his tenure, Shapiro introduced the MacMillan International Dissertation Research Fellowship and expanded the center’s support for faculty and graduate student research on international affairs.
Ian Shapiro served as the director of the MacMillan Center for 15 years.
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