Schwartz takes office at Humphrey School

The new dean has experience in practicing and teaching policy.

Jill Jensen

Eric Schwartz spent two days in a Honda packed with books and other belongings he needs as the new dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs âÄî a job he begins today.

The University of Minnesota announced SchwartzâÄôs appointment in early June, after a semester-long search.

âÄúI expect to be spending lots, and lots and lots of time at the school,âÄù he said.

Schwartz stepped down as the assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in the U.S. Department of State on Friday. He said he had toyed with the idea of entering the academic world as a dean for a decade.

His previous teaching experience comes from Princeton UniversityâÄôs Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he taught 12 classes in eight years since 2001.

âÄúIt has been clear to me that I thoroughly enjoy an environment in which the exchange and development of knowledge and information is the key component,âÄù Schwartz said.

Schwartz is a âÄúwhirlwind of energy,âÄù Reuben Brigety, SchwartzâÄôs former deputy assistant secretary, said.

He said Schwartz is an experienced humanitarian, zealous about his work.

âÄúHeâÄôs passionate about ensuring that young people who have a commitment to public service have access to the best public education and opportunities possible,âÄù Brigety said. He worked with Schwartz for four years.

For more than 20 years, Schwartz has been involved in public service through organizations like the United Nations and the National Security Council.

He said his experience has reinforced the fundamentals of a school of public affairs. He said it will foster discussion on important policy issues, like how the U.S. deals with countries like China that ascend to the station of a new power at a âÄúdizzying rate.âÄù

Greg Lindsey, who served as the Humphrey SchoolâÄôs interim dean since Jan. 1, said Schwartz has an âÄúinternational reputationâÄù and brings contact with world leaders to the school.

Schwartz has made âÄúvery important contributions to millions of people around the globe,âÄù Lindsey said.

Schwartz said he is excited to live in the Midwest, though he has spent the majority of his life on the East Coast.

He said his older sister, who attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, adored Minnesota and its residents âÄî âÄúnot the warmth of the climate, but the warmth of the people there,âÄù he said.

As a kid, he said many of his heroes in public affairs were from Minnesota and he has âÄúnothing but great associations with Minnesota.âÄù

SchwartzâÄôs wife and daughter will remain in Silver Spring, Md. until his daughter finishes her sophomore year of high school. They will fly periodically to visit one another, he said. His oldest daughter just began her first year at college.

Schwartz has a bachelorâÄôs degree in political science from Binghamton University, a masterâÄôs in public affairs from Princeton and a law degree from New York University School of Law.