Foreign policy scholar tapped as permanent Elliott School dean

Media Credit: File Photo by Eric Lee | Staff Photographer

Prior to working at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ayres steered policy for U.S. embassies as the deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia, the release states.

A foreign policy scholar and researcher will become the Elliott School of International Affair’s next dean, according to a University release Monday.

Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, will become the school’s first permanent female dean beginning Feb. 1, the release states. Ayres will take over a position currently held by Ilana Feldman, who will return to her position as a faculty member in the Elliott School, according to the release.

“I could not be more excited about joining the Elliott School and becoming part of the Elliott School community’s next phase,” Ayres said in the release. “Between the pandemic, global economic upheavals, climate change and the return of geopolitics, to name just a few of the urgent challenges we are facing, rigorous international affairs education and research has never been more important.”

Ayres has also taught a course on U.S.-South Asia relations at GW.

Prior to working at the Council on Foreign Relations, Ayres steered policy for U.S. embassies as the deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia, the release states. She was also the founding director of the India and South Asia practice at McLarty Associates, an international strategic advisory firm in the District, where she now works as a part-time senior adviser. She also helped lead the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Advanced Study of India and managed foreign policy and other programs at the Asia Society in New York City.

Ayres graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in sanskrit and Indian studies and from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in South Asian languages and civilization, according to the release.

“Dr. Ayres’ unique experiences as a practitioner-scholar and the extensive network she has built during her career are a perfect fit for the Elliott School, which prepares students for careers in international affairs by equipping them with the knowledge to become leaders,” Provost Brian Blake said in the release.

Ayres’ appointment comes after former Dean Reuben Brigety stepped down about a year ago. Some student organizations blasted the University for naming Feldman, the interim dean, to the role, citing her support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement – a nonviolent cause aiming for Israel to stop occupying Palestinian territories.

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