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Elliott School of International Affairs

The historical roots of The George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs (ESIA) can be traced to the establishment in 1898 of the School of Comparative Jurisprudence and Diplomacy. The University has continuously sought to meet the educational needs of persons intent on government careers, particularly in the foreign service. While such curricular offerings go back almost a century, the accompanying institutional structures have come and gone. The Jurisprudence School, for example, began promisingly with 90 students and an all-star faculty of the Supreme Court. By 1905, however, the GW law students who comprised most of its enrollees had concluded that an M.A. in diplomacy was superfluous to a straight law degree. Enrollments fell off, and the Administration replaced it with a School of Politics and Diplomacy. Two years later, the SPD metamorphosed into a hybrid entity called the College of the Political Sciences which, thanks to its first-time offering of international programs to undergraduates, seemed certain to prosper. Unfortunately, the College ran head on into one of the University's most severe financial crises, holding its last commencement in June 1913.

For the next decade and a half, international affairs slipped into what might be called "institutional custody," all of its programs were transferred to Columbian College. By no means, however, were these programs eclipsed. Every GW Bulletin for the next 15 years highlighted Columbian's offering of courses "that will fit (students) for consular and diplomatic positions and for the public service." A separate institutional life returned in 1928 when President Cloyd Heck Marvin created the School of Government. The School was a product of its times: a high era of government-business cooperation. Its degree programs sought to integrate the study of international politics with international business. Whatever the perceived logic of such linkage, the School's two components gradually diverged. While the "professional" faculty offered degrees in accounting, business, and statistics, the "policy" faculty taught the combinations of history, economics, and political science more traditionally associated with international affairs as we know it today. By the mid-1950s, faculty sentiment strongly favored a separation. Amid committee studies and lobbying by the "policy" faculty, the international affairs component gained somewhat greater recognition in 1960 when the School of Government became the School of Government, Business, and International Affairs.

In the spring of 1966 the School broke apart cleanly. In one of his first official acts, Lloyd H. Elliott, fourteenth President of the University, carried out the Trustees' authorization to separate the two faculties. Since that time, the School of Public and International Affairs (now the Elliott School of International Affairs) has flourished under its three permanent deans: Burton M. Sapin (1969-83), Maurice A. East (1985-1994) and Harry Harding (1995 to the present). Sapin was largely responsible for the School's early programmatic expansion. During his tenure, he added interdisciplinary programs in Russian Studies; Science, Technology, and Public Policy; Latin American Studies; Urban Affairs; and Security Policy Studies.

Under Dean East (1985-1994) and Dean Harding (1995 to 2005), and Dean Michael E. Brown (2005 - Present) the School has taken a more central position in the University's over-all perception of its mission. Degree programs have been refined and integrated, the faculty strengthened, and the student body furnished with a growing array of academic services and opportunities for internships. The Elliott School, so named in 1988, is today the most successful adaptation of programs and purposes that University statesmen have so long envisioned for a Washington Environment.

Article written by Dr. Peter Hill, 1996 Updated 2008

Deans

1903 Charles Needham had become President of the University)

1899-1902 Charles W. Needham

1898-1905
School of Comparative Jurisprudence and Diplomacy

1903
Charles W. Needham 1899-1902 (Charles Needham became President of the University)

1904
No Dean

1905
No Dean

1905
Renamed the School of Politics and Diplomacy (1905-1907)

1905
Dean Henry St. George Tucker

1906
No Dean

1907
C. William A. Viditz (Acting Dean)

1907-1913
College of the Political Sciences

1907-1908
C. William A. Veditz (Acting Dean)

1909-1910
Howard Lee McBain

1910-1912
Henry Parker Willis

1912-1913
C. William A. Veditz (Acting Dean)

1913
No Dean

1913-1928
College of the Political Sciences incorporated into Columbian College

(1913-1928)
Columbian College

1905-1929
William A. Wilbur

1928
Creation of the School of Government (1928-1961)

1928-1945
Cloyd Heck Marvin

1945-1957
Arthur E. Burns

1957-1960
No Dean

Creation of the School of Government, Business, and International Affairs (1960-1966)

1960-1965
A. M. Woodruff

1965-1966
H. F. Bright (Acting Dean)

1966
Creation of the School of Public and International Affairs

1966-1969
Hiram Miller Stout (Acting Dean)

1969
Maury Hall was taken over by students in protest

1969-1983
Burton Malcolm Sapin

Addition of multi disciplinary programs

1970
Russian Studies

1971
Science, Technology and Public Policy

1972
Latin American Studies

1973
Urban Affairs

1980
Security Policy Studies

1983-1985
Peter Hill (Acting Dean)

1985-1994
Maurice A. East

1987
Creation of the School of International Affairs

1989
School of International Affairs renamed the Elliott School of International Affairs

1994
Acting Dean Jim Miller

1995 - 2005
Harry Harding

2005 - 
Michael E. Brown

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