June 25, 2012

SAIS says farewell to Dean Jessica Einhorn

Einhorn retires

She digs it: Gardening enthusiast Jessica Einhorn receives one of her going-away gifts—a new trowel—from senior associate dean Myron Kunka.

Members of the SAIS community heaped praise, well-wishes and gifts on departing Dean Jessica Einhorn earlier this month at an event held on the school’s main campus in Washington, D.C.

Those gathered at the intimate gathering also learned which Downton Abbey character Einhorn most closely matched, and how the dean will spend a portion of her retirement.

Einhorn, the first SAIS graduate to serve as its dean, will step down on June 30 after a decade as leader of one of the nation’s most prominent graduate professional schools of international relations.

She joined Johns Hopkins in 2002 after nearly 20 years with the World Bank, where she served as managing director in charge of the bank’s financial management and, earlier, as vice president and treasurer. She also spent a year as a visiting fellow at the International Monetary Fund and has held positions at the Treasury and State departments and the U.S. International Development Cooperation Agency.

SAIS colleagues used the school’s annual staff recognition milestone event—for staff marking five, 10 and 15 years of service—to honor Einhorn. The event was held June 6 in the Herter Room of the school’s Nitze Building.

Colleagues praised Einhorn particularly for her focus on the student experience and her efforts to “modernize” the campus in terms of administration and classroom technology.

Myron Kunka, senior associate dean for finance and administration at SAIS, said that Einhorn has made a “tremendous difference” in how the school conducts its business and educates its students, including recruiting exceptional faculty, supporting faculty research and overseeing the creation or expansion of a number of research centers.

“Jessica, you’ve put us on solid ground and in the perfect position for our new dean to build for the future,” said Kunka, referring to Vali R. Nasr, who will assume his position as dean on July 1.

Kunka and others noted that Einhorn has expanded student opportunities for learning outside the classroom through internships, study trips and other activities. She oversaw the introduction, in collaboration with Nanjing University, of the first master’s degree program in international studies in China, offered at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. She also worked to position the school’s Bologna Center in Italy in the changing European market for higher education.

John M. Harrington Jr., associate dean for academic affairs and a professorial lecturer in international economics, said that Einhorn should be praised for her efforts to improve the student experience.

“I think many of you have heard [Jessica] say that her vision is to have the SAIS student experience begin on the first day of Pre-term and continue until Commencement. I think she has raised that awareness, and raised money for that awareness, to make this a reality for our students,” Harrington said. “She sees the SAIS education as more than surges during the four semesters and includes student trips and internships during breaks. Jessica, thank you for your insight. This is change that will last a long time.”

Harrington gave the first of what would be many gifts: a promise of an email that will give her access to the online pre-calculus and calculus for economists math courses offered to all incoming students. Einhorn said she needed some brushing up on the subject. “She already has the DVD version of the Harrington lectures, but what she is going to have is the streaming version with all the quizzes and exercises,” Harrington told the crowd, “because she is going to have a lot of time on her hands in between gardening and solving the financial problems of the world.”

Although she has no set plans, Einhorn said that she wants to keep a toe in the world of finance, in addition to traveling and “escaping the D.C. heat” by spending more time on Cape Cod.

Several in attendance lauded Einhorn’s fundraising efforts. During her tenure, SAIS received the three largest gifts in its history, including the recent gift of a residential property valued at $5.9 million. This property will be sold by the Johns Hopkins University Real Estate Office to create a permanent base of support for the Foreign Policy Institute. SAIS, in fact, has received more $1 million gifts in the past 10 years than in its first 60 years of existence. Also, the school received $27 million from donors as additions to its endowment fund during Einhorn’s tenure.

Einhorn made a concerted effort to reach out to alumni, and SAIS now holds 80 alumni events annually.

Ruth Swanson, interim associate dean for development and strategic planning, said that she will miss talking with Einhorn about the dean’s favorite show, Downton Abbey, the award-winning PBS series that follows a cast of characters on a fictional estate in Yorkshire, England, during the early 20th century, before, during and after WWI.

Downton Abbey is, I like to think, a bit like SAIS,” Swanson said. “We are a complex place with tradition and a lot of moving parts. There are people up front who are the public face, and a lot of people behind the scenes that keep the place running. And there are major changes socially, economically and globally going on around us that impact us and in which we are actively engaged.”

Swanson had earlier taken an online personality quiz for Einhorn to determine which Downton Abbey character she matched, and later confirmed her results by making Einhorn take the quiz. On both occasions, Einhorn matched with Robert, Earl of Grantham, the lord of the manor, who inherited an estate desperately in need of money and whose leadership and strategic relationships put Downton Abbey back on its feet.

“Jessica, this means you are honest and old-fashioned. You’re primarily motivated by honor and duty. You’re so honorable, you’re actually willing to let a virtual stranger inherit all your worldly goods rather than risk breaking up your family’s legacy,” said Swanson, drawing laughs from the audience. “You can be extremely generous and forgiving toward those you feel have earned your loyalty.”

To show appreciation, several gifts were presented to Einhorn, including a collection of SAIS mugs and some items for two of her favorite hobbies, gardening and swimming. The gifts included a set of gardening tools and the official swim cap and T-shirt of the JHU varsity swim team. She also received a signed photograph of the SAIS courtyard taken in the late 1960s.

Einhorn, who appeared delighted throughout the proceedings, was given time to share her thoughts at the end of the event.

“I am deeply touched. Thank you,” she said. “It’s my greatest concern that I don’t say thank you enough to each of you individually.”

She also had some words on SAIS’ past, present and future.

“We have really come a long way in these years. We do stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Bonnie Wilson [associate dean for student affairs] is right when she says that SAIS is not a job—it’s family—and one I would continue to love,” she said. “It has been a wonderful 10 years here, and I appreciate all the kindness you have shown. I also know that I am extremely well succeeded and that SAIS’ best years are ahead of you.”

SAIS was founded in 1943 in Washington, D.C., to prepare students to assume major responsibilities in the postwar world. It became a part of Johns Hopkins in 1950 and now has additional campuses in Bologna, Italy, and Nanjing, China. Its nearly 1,000 students across the three locations benefit from the school’s emphasis on diverse knowledge and skill sets in core disciplines such as strategic studies, international development, international economics, regional study and foreign language training.