Aug. 3, 2008 — Gowher Rizvi, an internationally renowned political scientist and current director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has been appointed vice provost for international programs at the University of Virginia.
President John T. Casteen III announced the appointment, which is effective Sept. 1.
"We are pleased that Gowher Rizvi has accepted our invitation to direct the University's international programs," said Casteen. "He has significant experience and a strong record of success in both academic and non-academic undertakings. We look forward to supporting Mr. Rizvi as he cooperates with the provost and our school deans to develop a comprehensive plan for enhancing the University's global impact and implementing that plan."
In his role as vice provost, Rizvi will oversee the International Studies Office, including its programs for study abroad, and will provide support for international students and scholars. In addition, Rizvi will have a central role in strengthening the University's connections with universities abroad, hosting international delegations, representing U.Va. in a variety of international settings and internationalizing student life on the Grounds, in both extracurricular and curricular offerings.
"My goal is to position the University of Virginia in a worldwide leadership role in a variety of fields of knowledge," Rizvi said. "Toward that end, we must contribute to the development of intellectual capital in an international context by enhancing the educational, research and public service opportunities for students, faculty and staff."
He said that the strategy for global education "will involve both taking U.Va. to the world and bringing the world to the Grounds so that our graduates are equally at home, both here and abroad, in global multicultural settings."
Rizvi, who was the Ford Foundation's representative to New Delhi prior to joining the Ash Institute, also plans to set up joint centers for research with the best universities overseas "so as to facilitate for our faculty and students a genuine global experience and to remain at the cutting edge of research."
Dr. Arthur Garson, U.Va's executive vice president and provost, said, " Gowher Rizvi brings ideal experience to U.Va., being a Rhodes scholar himself, having lived in a number of countries and directed the Ford Foundation in Asia. He has become known at the Kennedy School at Harvard for his ability to draw faculty together, a talent that will surely fit well here."
In a career of more than 25 years across four continents, Rizvi has combined academic appointments with positions in international organizations, not-for-profit institutions and the media. He originally trained as a social scientist, but is an area studies and development expert.
His publications have spanned the disciplines of history, politics, international relations and development economics. His books include "South Asia in a Changing International Order," "South Asia Insecurity and the Great Powers," "Bangladesh: The Struggle for the Restoration of Democracy," "Perspectives on Imperialism and Decolonization" and "Lord Linlithgow and India."
Rizvi earned a "double first" in B.A. Honors and M.A. from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. He earned a D.Phil. at Trinity College, Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes scholar.
He taught for nearly two decades at several British universities, including Oxford University, the University of Warwick and St. Anthony's College. He also served as the Asia-Pacific region head for the Oxford Analytical Daily Brief, an Oxford think tank. He is the founding editor of Contemporary South Asia, an academic and policy studies journal published at Oxford.
Rizvi has also been widely engaged in working to manage conflicts and strengthen democratic institutions and processes in Asia. From 1988 to 1990, he served as special assistant to the United Nations coordinator for Afghanistan, participating in several missions to that country and developing close links with Afghan leaders on both sides of the civil war.
In 1992, he collaborated with the Royal Institute of International Affairs to organize a high-level Anglo-Iranian Roundtable in order to facilitate direct dialogue between senior officials of the two countries.
Since 1986, he has also been involved in promoting unofficial contact and dialogue between South Asian leaders, and has both organized and participated in nongovernmental monitoring of elections in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Rizvi joined the Ford Foundation in 1995 as the deputy director for governance and civil society with responsibilities for the foundation's work worldwide. He became the representative to New Delhi in 1998. The New Delhi office, with a grant-making budget in excess of $56 million in 2001, is the foundation's oldest and largest overseas office. Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Rizvi was the director of contemporary affairs at the Asia Society in New York, the leading public education organization dedicated to increasing American understanding of peoples and cultures throughout Asia.
Rizvi succeeds Dr. Leigh Grossman, professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of pediatric infectious disease, who has held the post since 2003.
Rizvi is married to Agnese Barolo. They have one daughter, Maya, a 2008 graduate of Vassar.