James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A former Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander. He also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006-2009. A Fletcher PhD, he won the Gullion prize as outstanding student and has published five books and over a hundred articles. His focus is on innovation, strategic communication and planning, and creating security through international, interagency, and public/private partnerships in this turbulent 21st century.
Stavridis earned an M.A. in law and diplomacy and a Ph.D. in international affairs from the school and assumed the deanship this summer following his retirement from the Navy.
The New York Times has called Stavridis a “Renaissance admiral,” largely because this career Navy man has defined the 21st-century U.S. military as not built solely on might, but on “smart power,” the creation of durable partnerships with friends and allies to achieve mutual goals of security, prosperity and peace. Known as an inspirational leader and strategic thinker with a keen understanding of world affairs, Stavridis has often said that “We are excellent at launching Tomahawk missiles; we need to get better at launching ideas.”
Stavridis is the first naval officer to serve as American and NATO commander in Europe. He is responsible for 120,000 coalition troops operating on three continents and at sea. The 51-nation European Command stretches from Spain and Portugal to the Middle East and into the Caucasus. Stavridis has had to navigate diverse geography, culture and economics in the region while negotiating such issues as the NATO mission in Afghanistan, cyber-security, piracy off the Horn of Africa and protecting millions of Turkish citizens who live near the border with Syria.
Before assuming his current commands in 2009, Stavridis had led the U.S. Southern Command—comprising Latin America, South America and the Caribbean—since 2006. Earlier in his career, Stavridis commanded the destroyer USS Barry during deployments to Haiti, Bosnia and the Persian Gulf; the destroyer won the Battenberg Cup as the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet under his command. He received the Navy League’s John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership as commander of Destroyer Squadron 21, which deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1998. From 2002 to 2004, during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, he led the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Persian Gulf. Stavridis has an impressive record on diversity and inclusion, and successfully commanded the first Navy destroyer to have both male and female sailors on board. He served as executive assistant to Navy Secretary Richard Danzig during the Clinton administration and as a senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during the George W. Bush presidency.
Born into a military family, Stavridis spent part of his childhood in Greece while his father, a Marine officer, was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Athens. He earned his undergraduate degree in literature with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy and is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College and National War College.
He has taught literature at the Naval Academy as well as two courses at Tufts’ Experimental College: “Strategy and Policy” and “Literature of the Sea.” He aims to read a novel a week and makes it a point to read poets of the countries to which he travels. He is the author of Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command (National Defense University Press), a reflection on his tenure as commander of the Southern Command, and four other books on leadership, maritime affairs and strategic innovation. He has published more than 100 articles.
Stavridis has embraced digital communications to engage a global audience about everything from the pressing issues of the day to his reading list. He has more than 13,000 followers on Twitter and more than 10,000 friends on Facebook, where he posts commentary as well as photos from his frequent travels. He is also a regular blogger at From the Bridge.
Stavridis succeeds Dean Stephen W. Bosworth, who has led The Fletcher School since 2001.
Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy; M.A. and Ph.D. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Supreme Allied Commander, NATO and commander of U.S. European Commander (2009-2013); Led U.S. Southern Command in Miami (2006-2009); Served as Senior Military Assistant to Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy; First commander of Navy’s “Deep Blue” strategic and tactical think tank after 9/11 Pentagon attacks (2001-2002)
Intrepid Freedom Award (2011); Athenagoras Human Rights Award (2011); Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow; Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement (2011); John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership (1998); Arleigh Burke Award; 38 U.S. and international military medals; Gullion Prize (Top in class), The Fletcher School at Tufts University
Notable Professional Affiliations
Chair of the Board, U.S. Naval Institute; Member, Council on Foreign Relations
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