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Rogowski takes the reins of the International Institute
Photo by Angilee Shah

Rogowski takes the reins of the International Institute

After Geoff Garrett's departure, maintaining existing programs and strengthening new ones are the top priorities for the new Vice Provost and Dean

"I like to talk to people one-on-one and serve a catalytic role."

Ronald Rogowski, 61, comes from an unexpectedly global mold. His parents were sharecropping tenants, children of the Great Depression who raised wheat in Nebraska.

"Wheat markets, ever since the 1870s, have really been world markets," says Rogowski, "and farmers paid -- and pay -- a lot of attention to world prices and world events." His parents also came from opposing sides of the political fence; his mother's side was made up of "Democrats, free traders, backers of activist government" while his father's family was "isolationist Republicans." "It all made for, well, pretty interesting dinnertime conversation," says Rogowski.

That dinnertime conversation turned out to be much more than just family chatter, though. For Rogowski, it led him down a life path much different than his parents'. "I enjoyed many aspects of farming -- I still raise a large vegetable garden," he says, "but my Dad was the first to tell me that it had no future, that I was a bright kid, and that I should get as much education as I could."

Now, Rogowski is deeply entrenched in the eduacational system. He has been an influential educator for a number of years but recently assumed a post with campus-wide responsibilities as the new Interim Vice Provost and Dean of the UCLA International Institute. Rogowski is stepping in to replace Geoffrey Garrett, who stepped down from the post on July 1, 2005 to head the Pacific Council on International Policy at the University of Southern California. "I like to talk to people one-on-one and serve a catalytic role," he says of his new leadership position.

Indeed, Rogowski has been a catalyst for many new initiatives at the International Institute. He headed the planning committee which made recommendations in 2002 to rename and reorganize the International Studies and Overseas Programs into the International Institute as it operates today. Among the committee's recommendations were the restructuring of the Asian studies program into the umbrella Asia Institute, and the creation of the Global Impact Research Initiative to support scholarship that cuts across regional boundaries.

In the fall of 2003, Rogowski and Garrett, following through on an idea conceived by sociology professor Rogers Brubaker, brought in the first class of global fellows to inaugurate an International Institute program that brings together promising scholars who research issues with global impact.

The reworking of an Islamic studies program, another recommendation of the committee, is still in the works, Rogowski says. While Islamic studies are currently housed in the Center for Near Eastern Studies, most Muslims are in Asia and Africa. While the formation of a faculty advisory committee and the search for new faculty members has begun, this is an area where Rogowski says, "More will and should happen."

The new Center for India and South Asia was officially launched on July 1, 2005 while the Latin American Center, Center for European and Eurasian Studies, and Center for Southeast Asian Studies all have new directors for the 2005-06 academic year. Creating new programs as well as maintaining the excellence of existing programs will be Rogowski's challenge during his time at the helm of the Institute. While Rogowski says his leadership style is different than Garrett's gregarious one, his goals include, "building on and filling out [Garrett]'s vision."

Keeping the International Institute a premiere place for research and teaching is a high priority. The Global Fellows Program, for example, has seen many successes -- this year a maximum of 10 fellows will be chosen from 300 applicants -- but is now facing competition from similar programs at other universities. The Princeton and the University of Michigan's programs, for example, offer three-year fellowships to promote interdisciplinary research while Harvard University has a broader program for early-career fellowships conducting any type of research.

"You want to keep your place the place to be, or at least one of the few top places to be," says Rogowski. Garrett, he says, was instrumental in raising the profile of the International Institute -- a talent Rogowski says was important for drawing the best undergraduate and graduate students and for recruiting and retaining excellent faculty. He hopes to continue Garrett's work in this area.

Studies on migration, for example, continue to be an outstanding part of the curriculum at UCLA. The International Institute and Sociology Department, says Rogowski, is able to house pre-eminent scholars such as UCLA professor Andreas Wimmer, because the campus is well-known in the field.

Rogowski says that the UC-wide budget crisis is waning, but finding money for growing programs is certain to be a challenge. He wants to work toward regularizing funding during his stint as Vice Provost and Dean of the Institute. Last spring, Chancellor Albert Carnesale named international studies one of three major academic initiatives, areas which he believed should be focuses for long-term growth. Regularized funding, Rogowski says, will help solidify the international studies' role as an integral player in UCLA's academic landscape as the Chancellor envisions.

Francoise Lionnet, professor of Comparative Literature, French and Francophone Studies, will serve in Rogowski's former posts as the Interim Associate Dean of International Studies and Interim Director of the Global Fellows Program. Lionett has been co-director of the UC Multicampus Research Group on Transnational and Transcolonial Studies since 1999.

Rogowski expects the search for a permanent Vice Provost and Dean, which will be handled by a committee whose chair is yet to be appointed, will take a year or more.

"UCLA is indeed fortunate that Ron Rogowski is willing to lead the International Institute at this important juncture," says Patricia O'Brien, the Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science. "With a new major and new endowed programs, the International Institute is moving forward confidently under Ron's leadership."

Rogowski is the author of two books and countless papers. He co-authored with Mark Kayser "Majoritarian Electoral Systems and Consumer Power: Price-Level Evidence form the OECD States," published in the American Journal of Political Science in July, 2002. The piece, which argues that shifts into majority-rule governments essentially make prices go down, was very influential and controversial in the field and has made its way into many course reading lists. He also had two four-year stints as the chair of the Department of Political Science and spent the 2004-05 year as the Associate Dean of the International Institute and Director of the Global Fellows Program. He has been a professor at UCLA since 1981 and previously taught at Duke and Princeton University.

As a student, Rogowski skipped several grades and entered the University of Nebraska not long after his sixteenth birthday. After college he spent about three formative years on and off in Germany as a researcher and Institute of International Education (IIE) Fellow.

Rogowski has two young children who also have global experience. "I somehow still regard Germany, and in particular Berlin, as a second home and was particularly happy to show its sights to my family for a few days last Christmas," he says. He still takes them back to the farm in Nebraska for two weeks every summer as well.