Monday, August 31, 2015

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Stam Named Dean of U.Va.’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

The University of Virginia today announced the appointment of Allan C. Stam as the second dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Stam comes to U.Va. from the University of Michigan, where he studies leadership, international conflict and global politics as a professor of public policy and political science and director of the International Policy Center at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

“As one of the nation’s leading scholars of leadership, with a personal record of elite military service and administrative responsibilities in the academy, Allan Stam is the clear choice to further advance Frank Batten’s vision of a school of public policy focused on leadership,” U.Va. Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon said.

The Batten School was created in 2007, backed by a $100 million gift from the late Frank Batten Sr., former president and chief executive of Landmark Communications.

Stam will succeed inaugural dean Harry Harding, who has led the school since 2009. Harding oversaw the initial staffing of the school, which now has 14 full-time faculty members complemented by 18 affiliates from across the University. Enrollment has grown more than fivefold under Harding, from 53 students in 2009 to 280 today.

“My biggest challenge, and No. 1 priority, will be to maintain the momentum and focus that Dean Harding has established, to keep moving the school forward, hewing to Frank Batten’s vision,” Stam said. “The school already has an extraordinary group of young faculty, including a critical mass of scholars of leadership, many with a psychology background that offers a key perspective to understand leaders’ success or failure. This focus on studying and teaching leadership is both unusual and Batten’s greatest strength relative to peer schools across the country.”

Stam, 52, begins his term July 1.

Harding will remain on the U.Va. faculty as a University Professor affiliated with both the Batten School and the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Search committee chair David Breneman, the Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education and Public Policy, former dean of U.Va.’s Curry School of Education and former senior associate dean for academic affairs at the Batten School, said Stam will make an immediate impact.

“The Batten School is poised for its next phase of significant growth, and Allan will hit the ground running with a clear understanding of Batten’s unique strengths and a vision of how to build on the foundation already laid,” he said.

Stam earned a Bachelor of Arts in government and a varsity letter in heavyweight crew from Cornell University, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan.

He interrupted his undergraduate studies to enlist in the Army. Serving as a communications specialist in the U.S. Army Special Forces, he trained for reconnaissance operations in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to provide targeting information for tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a war.

That experience, preparing to be on the ground for a possible conflict between superpowers, along with 15 years in the Army Reserve as an armor officer after returning to college, led him to graduate school and has inspired several of his research projects, Stam said.

He has modeled how combat trauma affects the probability that veterans subsequently engage in domestic abuse or criminal behavior. He has studied political and communal conflict around the world, including in Gujarat, India, where he and colleagues interviewed 150,000 people in the late 2000s to document discrimination against and within the “untouchable” sub-caste population, the largest study of its type to date.

He and fellow Michigan professor Christian Davenport spent more than a decade painstakingly piecing together a detailed map and timeline of violence committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, creating the most detailed account to date of the 100 days of bloodshed that ravaged the country. Those events are still being addressed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Stam’s findings challenge the conventional wisdom that the killings were a one-sided massacre of 800,000 Tutsi by the Hutus, the dominant, ruling ethnic group.

Stam recently completed a decade-long study of how political leaders’ formative life experiences impact their willingness as heads of state to take risks and escalate armed conflict. Stam and colleagues created structured biographies of more than 2,400 leaders of all stripes – presidents, dictators, kings, generals and prime ministers, from Fidel Castro and Winston Churchill to Gerald Ford, Nelson Mandela and Ho Chi Minh – who ruled between 1875 and 2006. Each biography notes key formative events, including service in the military, participation in combat or a revolutionary movement, or the death of a parent or sibling.

Stam found strong correlations between the use of violence against neighboring states and certain traumatic experiences earlier in life. The study is the subject of a forthcoming book, “Presidents, Kings, Dictators, and War,” under contract with Cambridge University Press.

Stam has written or co-written four books, all dealing with international politics: “The Behavioral Origins of War,” “Democracies at War,” “Power Transitions: Strategies for the 21st Century” and “Win, Lose, or Draw: Domestic Politics and the Crucible of War.”

Stam has taught courses on leadership and grand strategy, world politics and political economy, international ethics and law, and U.S. foreign policy and national security policy.

Before moving to Michigan in 2007, Stam was the Daniel Webster Professor at Dartmouth College, and previously taught at Yale and American universities. In 2006, he was a visiting professor at Harvard University. He has been recognized with several awards for his teaching, including the J. Kenneth Huntington Memorial Teaching Award at Dartmouth.

His scholarship has also drawn major honors. He received the 2004 Karl Deutsch Award, given by the International Studies Association to the scholar under the age of 40 who has made the greatest contribution to the study of international politics. In 2011, in recognition of a decade-long software development project, he and his collaborators won the first annual J. David Singer Data Innovation Award from the American Political Science Association for the best data contribution to the study of political conflict.

Stam is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a resident fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University for the 2007-08 academic year.  

Stam has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for five National Science Foundation research grants totaling more than $1 million.

Stam and his wife, Eileen, have three sons – Andrew, Daniel and Peter – ranging in ages from 9 to 22.

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