News & Stories

SIPA Faculty Remember Madeleine Albright

Posted Mar 24 2022

“In 1984 I was drafted by the Mondale presidential campaign to take leave from the Brookings Institution and join the campaign's issues staff. I worked under Madeleine Albright who, with David Aaron, was Mondale's main advisor on foreign policy., preparing him for debates, press inquiries, and decisions on policy stance. The work was grueling, around-the-clock, but Madeleine was unfailingly kind and cheerful irrespective of how dire each emergency seemed. Unlike too many practitioners she was never self-important or more demanding of her staff than of herself. I never heard anyone then or later complain about her as a boss or indeed about any assignment she gave. That's unusual at high levels.”

Richard K. Betts, Leo A. Shifrin Professor of War and Peace Studies

“Secretary Albright was an extraordinary individual in so many ways—a dedicated teacher, scholar, diplomat, business woman, and a fierce advocate for democracy. In addition, she was an ever loyal Columbian and a proud graduate of SIPA. During my years as Dean, she joined us regularly and went out of her way to interact with SIPA faculty and students. Many of you will remember when, in 2021, she was SIPA's graduation speaker and urged us all to remember that, ‘The cynics are wrong. Democracy, though imperfect, remains the best system of government ever invented in a world where the interdependence of peoples is not a fiction. What happens to any of us can and will affect us all.’ She also encouraged us to go out and make a difference. She did and we have all benefited from her contributions to the global community. We will miss her greatly.”

Merit E. Janow, Dean Emerita; Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs

“Madeleine Korbel Albright was one of the great U.S. secretaries of state, a profound thinker, terrific colleague, and very good friend. Among her major achievements is the entry of countries of Central Europe into NATO, an outcome that plays a crucial part in the current war in Ukraine and confrontation with Russia. When she stepped down as secretary of state, I had the opportunity to host Madeleine for several years as the distinguished senior fellow at the William Davidson Institute of the University of Michigan. We also worked together in various capacities in the Czech community of the United States and were long-term advisers to President Vaclav Havel of the Czech Republic. Madeleine was close to SIPA and contributed to our activities in a major way on a number of occasions. She was a highly principled person and a firm defender of democracy in a world of rising autocratic tendencies.”

Jan Svejnar, Richard N. Gardner Professor of Economics and International Affairs; Director, Center on Global Economic Governance