Grzegorz Ekiert Named Director of Center for European Studies

The Center for European Studies announced Thursday that Grzegorz Ekiert has been named Director of the Center, succeeding outgoing Director David Blackbourn.

Ekiert, a Government professor, has been affiliated with CES since his time as a graduate student in the early 90s, and has held a number of different junior and senior faculty positions affiliated with the Center. Ekiert previously served as Chair of the Committee on the Degrees in Social Studies and as CES interim director in the fall of 2010.

“I’m delighted both for him and the Center,” Blackbourn said. “He’s a good colleague and a good friend. He’s a very experienced administrator and an exceptional scholar, and I see nothing but success in the future.”

Ekiert’s academic focus is on regime change, democratization and Eastern European politics, according to his Department of Government biography.

“He really brings an expertise with his focus on the conditions for democratization, not just a European topic but I think one where the lessons of Europe have something to teach us elsewhere,” said CES Executive Director Trisha Craig.

Blackbourn, who is leaving to take up an appointment as a professor of history at Vanderbilt University, served as director from 2006 through 2012, guiding the Center through the global financial crisis and Harvard’s budget cuts.

“As far as substance and program is concerned, I think the mission of the Center has broadened over the last five years on my watch in the direction of more cultural events [and] engaging with the modern language departments and music departments, whether it be for cinema or music,” Blackbourn said.

Blackbourn, who has been at Harvard for 20 years, previously served as Chair of the History Department and focuses primarily on modern German history.

“My overwhelming emotion is of gratitude to Harvard; it’s a wonderful place,” Blackbourn said. “Harvard at its best is an incomparable institution, so I’m very proud to have been a part of it. It’s been a wonderful experience in my life.”

Ekiert could not be reached for comment.

−Staff writer Alexander Koenig can be reached at


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