By Kathleen Molony
As I sit in my dining room in Concord, Massachusetts, a room that has been my world since mid-March, I have time to think about the past nineteen-plus years at the Weatherhead Center. I still can’t believe that I am about to “retire” from a job that I love and from a place where I have gained so much.
My first exposure to the Center was nearly thirty years ago, when I spent an academic year at the then-Center for International Affairs (CFIA) as an Advanced Research Fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations. I shared an office in Coolidge Hall—where the Knafel building now sits—with a military officer and a Canadian diplomat, both of whom were participants in the Fellows Program. I could not have imagined a better “setup” to share conversation and experience.
I returned to Harvard eight years later to head the Fellows Program. During that first year running the program, Coolidge Hall would come down as we made way for construction of the new Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) buildings, and the world would be marked by momentous events—notably the 9/11 attacks. The twenty or so practitioners in the program that year, many of them diplomats and military officers, partnered with faculty to answer the myriad questions that students and others were posing about the implications of 9/11 and its aftermath.
The Fellows Program, which was founded on the premise that scholars and practitioners could learn from one another, was, in my early years at the WCFIA, fulfilling this promise. In fact, I began one ambitious summer about ten years ago with a plan to write a book about global changes in the wake of 9/11, based on what I had learned from these early conversations and research. Those chapters are still on my laptop.
I presided over a major change to the Fellows Program itself just a few years ago, a decision that resulted in the transformation and expansion of the earlier program. Today, the Weatherhead Scholars Program brings together visiting scholars, postdoctoral researchers, and practitioners from around the world. It is a vibrant and vital community of people who share their work and ideas. The scholars and practitioners are often in their shared offices or in the 61 Kirkland reading room in spirited, but friendly, debate. And it is not uncommon for the practitioners and scholars to collaborate on articles and to participate together in panel discussions. A truly blended enterprise!
I will also miss terribly my wonderful colleagues at the Center. We have the most extraordinary staff anywhere. These colleagues are incredibly nice, bright, caring, patient, and humble people. Indeed, I don’t intend to remain far from the Center, and I look forward to continuing to attend the many seminars from which I have benefitted so much over many years.
I wish everyone good health as we weather these challenging times together. We will get through this.
With deepest gratitude,
- Kathleen Molony talks with Center affiliate at the Weatherhead Forum on April 24, 2019. Credit: Lauren McLaughlin
- Tom Murphy and Kathleen Molony at a Weatherhead Center staff outing in 2008. Credit: Weatherhead Center
- Group photo of the 2015 Fellows at the statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard. Credit: Kristin Caulfield