Harvard Kennedy School Professor Tapped for Obama Post

Former Kennedy School Faculty member Kurt Campbell recently became the latest in a litany of Harvard affiliates to be tapped for a position in the Obama Administration.

Campbell, the CEO and Co-Founder of the Center for a New American Security—a moderate national security think tank, has been nominated as the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. His nomination follows the appointments of seventeen members from the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, according to the Belfer Center’s spring newsletter.

Prior to founding CNAS with Belfer Center colleague Michele Flournoy—the White House’s current undersecretary of defense for policy—Campbell served as an associate professor of Public Policy and International Relations at the Kennedy School. He was also the assistant director of the Belfer Center.

Currently, Campbell holds leadership positions at a variety of prominent political organizations in Washington, including the Aspen Strategy Group, StratAsia, and the Washington Quarterly. He has previously served in government in a variety of capacities, and received the Department of Defense Medals for Distinguished Public Service and for Outstanding Public Service for his contributions.

Campbell received overwhelming support for his nomination from his Harvard colleagues, some of whom have served with him both at the Kennedy School and in Washington for decades.

“[Campbell] has been a thoughtful, reflective student of Asia for two decades,” wrote Belfer Center Director and Kennedy School Professor Graham T. Allison Jr. in an e-mail on Saturday.

Allison, who originally hired Campbell as an assistant professor at the Kennedy School, has known Campbell for 20 years. His sentiments were echoed by Professor Ashton B. Carter, a Belfer Center member who has also known Campbell for two decades and was confirmed as the Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Sunday morning.

Both professors noted that the challenges of Campbell’s new position would include Asia’s growing role in the global economy and China’s potential future ability to challenge American dominance. They both added that Campbell’s extensive experience, insight, and respect within the region made him more than capable for the job.

“I have the greatest respect for his ability, and also his integrity,” Carter said.