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Elliott Draws on Scholarship as International Affairs​​ Provost

By Meg P. Bernhard and Mia C. Karr, Crimson Staff Writers

Mark C. Elliott, a professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and a renowned scholar of Chinese history, has been bringing his expertise in Chinese affairs to Harvard’s administration since he became Harvard's second-ever vice provost for international affairs.

Elliott, who replaced Government professor Jorge I. Dominguez last month, will coordinate the University’s global strategy, sign agreements with foreign governments, and meet with alumni around the world to fundraise and network, among other priorities.

Elliott said he accepted the position this summer after realizing it would be “foolish” to pass up the opportunity, adding that in addition to improve Harvard’s global outreach, he wants most, if not all, undergraduates to travel abroad before graduating.

Though only a month into the position, Elliott has already traveled to Ireland to meet with alumni, overseen the renewal of a contract with Mexico, and received on campus delegates from a Spanish university that awarded former Harvard president Derek C. Bok an honorary degree.

Fellow East Asian Languages and Civilizations professor Carter J. Eckert, one of several faculty members who recommended Elliott for the position, said the new vice-provost is “a true internationalist.” Eckert said his colleague’s knowledge of China is particularly beneficial, considering the large number of Chinese students who attend Harvard.

Dominguez agreed, adding that Harvard’s growing presence in China, as well as the country’s position as a global power, make his successor even better suited for the job.

Previously, Elliott traveled with University President Drew G. Faust to China to act as her cultural interpreter and meet Chinese alumni as part of Harvard’s fundraising efforts amid its record-seeking capital campaign.

History professor Andrew D. Gordon, who has collaborated with Elliott in the past, said the professor will excel in his role representing Harvard abroad.

“He’s very good at presenting what our part of Harvard, the International and the East Asia field, is up to” Gordon added.

Elliott has also served as director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies since 2013, but he said he plans to step down soon to focus on his duties as vice provost.

“He’s been a wonderful leader of the Fairbank,” said East Asian Languages and Civilizations professor Peter K. Bol, who is Elliott’s colleague at the Fairbank Center. “I think he’s worked hard to get faculty and students involved with each other in learning and thinking about China.”

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @meg_bernhard.

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