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Hillary Clinton appointed as Global Affairs Professor and Presidential Fellow at Columbia University

By Sarah May on
 January 6, 2023

Marking the next phase in a career that has taken a number of high-profile twists and turns over the decades, it was announced this week that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has accepted a role at Columbia University as a professor in its School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and will also serve as a presidential fellow at Columbia World Projects (CWP), as The Hill reports.

According to Fox News, Clinton's tenure with the university will begin in the 2023-2024 academic year.

Clinton to Columbia

In a statement announcing Clinton's roles Columbia president Lee Bollinger said, “I have had the great pleasure of knowing Hillary personally for three decades, since her early days as First Lady of the United States. Her public service has expanded since then, most notably in her remarkably successful tenure as Senator for the State of New York, her impressive role as Secretary of State, and in her two historic and record-breaking presidential campaigns.”

“Given her extraordinary talents and capacities together with her singular life experiences, Hillary Clinton is unique, and, most importantly, exceptional in what she can bring to the University's missions of research and teaching, along with public service and engagement for the public good,” added Bollinger.

For her part, Clinton declared of the arrangement, “I am honored to join Columbia University, and the School of International and Public Affairs and Columbia World Projects.”

The former secretary of State went on, “Columbia's commitment to educating the next generation of U.S. and global policy leaders, translating insights into impact, and helping to address some of the world's most pressing challenges resonates personally with me. I look forward to contributing to these efforts.”

Roles explained

As articulated in the university's news release, Clinton's wok at SIPA – which has a focus on global policy and politics – will include close collaboration with the school's dean, Keren Yarhi-Milo as well as with other faculty members on a range of initiatives.

Clinton will also reportedly have opportunities for classroom student engagement starting next fall and will help drive an effort to bring together thought leaders from all corners of the globe to develop “innovative policy solutions.”

“She is a remarkable leader who has been on the frontlines of virtually every critical challenge facing our world today – from the global fight to save democracy, her advocacy for women's rights, and her staunch defense of marginalized people everywhere,” Yarhi-Milo declared.

Clinton's work with Columbia World Projects will reportedly include assisting CWP director Wafaa El-Sadr, and deputy director Ira Katznelson in examining “fundamental questions on how to advance efforts to renew democracy and foster effective engagements with women and youth in this country and around the world.”

El-Sadr touted the upcoming collaboration with Clinton, saying, “We look forward to welcoming this extraordinarily accomplished global leader and passionate advocate for women, children, and social justice to Columbia World Projects. We are eager for her contributions to our efforts to advance rigorous scholarship and pursue sound policies and effective actions.”

Latest foray in academia

Clinton's appointments at Columbia are not her first excursions into the world of academia, as she was also installed as the first female chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland in September of 2021, as the BBC reported at the time.

During an appearance at the institution, she declared it “special” and explained that she was looking forward to “learning much more” about the school and “helping to tell the university's exciting story.”

Clinton told those in attendance that there was “another reason” she decided to accept the role of chancellor, namely, that “Northern Ireland has become a symbol of democracy's power to transcend divisions and deliver peace, and we need that beacon of hope now more than ever.”

“But with hope comes responsibilities, the responsibility to be a citizen, to be to be willing to discuss and learn from people unlike yourselves,” Clinton added. “To debate and compromise in search of common ground to participate in our shared institutions, to respect the rights, dignity and needs of all people, and to uphold the rule of law.”

Eye on 2024?

Though Clinton has denied that she has any plans to mount another presidential campaign, and her acceptance of these new roles at Columbia might suggest to some that she is happily settling into a new professional path, former Bill Clinton aide Dick Morris suggested earlier this fall that some of her recent public statements say otherwise.

As the New York Post noted, Morris opined in October that Clinton's decision to criticize President Joe Biden's handling of the southern border crisis amounted to “signals that she is going to be the moderate candidate for president" in 2024.

However, that take was offered before the Democrats pulled off a much better-than-expected showing in the midterm contests, which arguably bolstered Biden's confidence in his own re-election prospects and perhaps convinced Clinton that academia is indeed her best option going forward.