Thomas R. Pickering, former under secretary of state and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been named the James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. Throughout 2015, Pickering will take part in several Miller Center initiatives, speaking, writing and advising on foreign policy and national security matters.
“With his decades of experience as a U.S. diplomat, Ambassador Pickering has much to teach us about the world, especially in this time of international turmoil,” said Gerald L. Baliles, retiring director and CEO of the Miller Center. “I am pleased that he will be sharing his expertise at the Miller Center. He will help inform the center’s work and thus greatly benefit policymakers, scholars and students.”
Pickering said, “I am pleased and honored to be asked to take this prestigious position at the Miller Center and look very much forward to working with the students and faculty and the entire University of Virginia community. I want in whatever way I can to be helpful in this time of increased interest in foreign and security policy in the U.S. and around the world.”
From 1997 to 2000, Pickering was under secretary of state for political affairs, the third-highest position in the State Department. From 1989 to 1992, he was U.S. ambassador to the U.N., where he played a key role in responding to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Pickering also served as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 1993 to 1996; to India from 1992 to 1993; to Israel from 1985 to 1988; to El Salvador from 1983 to 1985; to Nigeria from 1981 to 1983; and to Jordan from 1974 to 1978. He holds the rank of career ambassador, the U.S. Foreign Service’s highest rank.
In 2012, he helped lead a State Department panel investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.
Early in his career, Pickering was a special assistant to Secretaries of State William P. Rogers and Henry Kissinger.
Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Pickering served as senior vice president for international relations at Boeing and as vice chairman at Hills & Company, an international consulting firm.
Pickering graduated from Bowdoin College with high honors in history. He holds master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the University of Melbourne.
The James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professorship was created in 2007. It provides a unique opportunity for public servants with experience in foreign policy and national security to participate as visiting faculty in Miller Center programs, interact with students at U.Va. and engage in writing with support from the Miller Center.
Past Schlesinger professors include Admiral Joseph W. Prueher, former U.S. ambassador to China under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and several other Middle Eastern nations.
Schlesinger served as secretary of defense from 1973 to 1975 and as the nation’s first energy secretary from 1977 to 1979. He also held leadership roles with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Atomic Energy Commission during a distinguished career in public service. Schlesinger taught economics at U.Va. from 1955 to 1963.