Ex-Pentagon Chief Returns to Harvard

BOSTON — Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter is the latest member of Barack Obama’s cabinet heading to the world of academia.

Harvard University said Carter is being hired as a professor and as director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a university think tank.

Carter follows other top members of the Democratic former president’s administration who have landed in college jobs, including former Vice President Joe Biden, who will lead policy institutes at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware, and former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was tapped to oversee a new global affairs program at Yale University.

For Carter, the new role will be in familiar territory — he taught at Harvard from 1996 to 2009 and once led an earlier version of the Belfer Center.

Harvard President Drew Faust said she is delighted to welcome Carter back, offering praise for his career as an academic and government leader.

“His knowledge, experience, and commitment to the future of public service and public policy will be of great benefit to our students and scholars, and to the world well beyond our walls,” Faust wrote in a statement.
Carter served as defense secretary from 2015 until Obama’s second term ended this year. He said the transition will mark an end to his 35-year career in national security.

As defense secretary, Carter sought to build relationships with the tech industry, opening Pentagon outposts in technology hubs including Silicon Valley and Boston. In an interview, Carter said he hopes to draw on that work at Harvard, providing a link between scholars and the tech industry to solve problems in a range of fields.
“A great university is the perfect place to find this combination of innovative ideas and technology, and the young people who are going to be our future,” Carter said.

The ex-Pentagon chief said he also wants to focus on “inspiring a new generation” and training new leaders and researchers.

He told Harvard students he’s proud of them for choosing to use their talents for the public good.
“You’re my kind of people,” he said during a Harvard University John. F. Kennedy School of Government forum. “And that’s why I’m so confident in the future. That’s why I wanted to be here, and who I want to work with, to continue to make a better world.”

To support that work, Harvard officials say philanthropist Robert Belfer and his wife, Renee Belfer, are making “a major new funding commitment” through a series of undisclosed donations. Their contributions will pay for a named professorship for Carter, along with student financial aid and research funding.

Carter, a physicist by training, has degrees from Yale and Oxford University in England. He’s scheduled to start at Harvard after this school year and will succeed current Belfer Center director Graham Allison, who is stepping down after leading the center since 1994.

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