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Kiron Skinner Named Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics at Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Kiron Skinner

The Pepperdine School of Public Policy has announced that international relations, US foreign policy, and political strategy expert Kiron Skinner will join its faculty as the Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics. The appointment will begin in August 2022.

Skinner previously served as the Taube Professor for International Relations and Politics at Carnegie Mellon University's Institute for Politics and Strategy and was a faculty member in the Department of History and the Department of Social and Decision Sciences (SDS) at the university's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. At Carnegie she also directed the Center for International Relations and Politics and the Carnegie Mellon University Washington Semester Program. Skinner continues to serve as the W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

"I'm excited to join the Pepperdine School of Public Policy's faculty as the Taube Professor of International Relations and Politics," noted Skinner. Describing SPP's unique liberal arts approach to the graduate public policy degree, she added, "SPP's commitment to teaching public policy through great books and more recent additions to the Canon is a distinctive way to prepare graduate students to address societal challenges in the workforce through the lens of big ideas and underlying philosophies." 

Skinner concluded by adding the unique historical connection she has to SPP, sharing, "The late James Q. Wilson welcomed me to Harvard as a young doctoral student. I look forward to building upon his foundational SPP legacy of combining pedagogy marked by an intellectually diverse toolkit and rigorous social science research." 

Skinner's past government service includes serving as the director of the office of policy planning and senior advisor at the US Department of State (2018-19), membership on the US Department of Defense's Defense Policy Board as an adviser on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the Chief of Naval Operations' Executive Panel, the National Academies Committee on Behavioral and Social Science Research to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security, and the National Security Education Board. From 2012 to 2015 she served on Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett's Advisory Commission on African American Affairs.

Several of Skinner's colleagues from her academic and public service added their thoughts:

  • Former national security adviser Robert C. O'Brien: "Dr. Kiron Skinner is one of America's preeminent experts in foreign policy and national security. She has served with distinction at the highest levels of the State Department and White House. Kiron's academic career has been just as impressive as her government service. Bringing Kiron on board immediately puts Pepperdine's international relations graduate program into the top tier in the country."
  • Former US secretary of the air force Barbara Barrett: "Dr. Kiron Skinner is one of America's most accomplished academic and government leaders. She convened a global leaders summit at Carnegie Mellon University on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009.  For CMU, she created an enduring degree-granting department in international relations and politics. Her foreign policy expertise is sought by senior State Department and Defense Department officials, leading media networks, and presidential campaigns, including Donald Trump's in 2016.  In 2020-21, Dr. Skinner worked collegially with other experts and CEO's on the Defense Business Board where her insights guided improvements in departmental operations. Dr. Skinner demonstrates her unwavering commitment to advancing women and people of color by advocating for talented leaders, especially in foreign policy and national security matters."
  • Former House speaker Newt Gingrich: "Kiron Skinner is a remarkable scholar with an amazing range of experiences from writing a key book on president Ronald Reagan to serving on a wide range of Pentagon advisory boards to creating new academic departments and developing Washington centers of academic influence. She will build an amazing center of studies in national security."
  • Pepperdine University Board Member, Paul Bennett and his wife Bea: "Kiron is one of the smartest people we know. She has a tremendous breadth of knowledge and a keen curiosity that works non-stop. We are proud to call her our friend and welcome her to Pepperdine."

Skinner is an award-winning and best-selling author with particular scholarship focused on the life and public policy of former president Ronald Reagan. Her coauthored books Reagan, In His Own Hand (2001) and Reagan, A Life in Letters (2003) were New York Times best sellers. Reagan, In His Own Hand won the Hoover Institution's Uncommon Book Award in 2002. 

"We're honored to welcome a world-class scholar and policy maker here to Malibu,” said Pete Peterson, dean and Braun Family Dean’s Chair of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. “I look forward to working with Dr. Skinner as we continue to grow our national security program here in Southern California and Washington, DC, preparing tomorrow's policy leaders."

Skinner is a lifetime director on the board of the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City and the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles. She holds MA and PhD degrees in political science and international relations from Harvard University and undergraduate degrees from Spelman College and Sacramento City College.