The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies

Group photo of the past 4 Harvard Academy Executive Officers reaching their hands into the middle

This fall, The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies celebrates thirty-five years since our first class of postdoctoral scholars joined the program back in the fall of 1986. Change is very much in the air as we undergo shifts in leadership and colleagues—not to mention continue operating during the pandemic. 

We will say goodbye to two of our Senior Scholars, Professors Susan J. Pharr and Steven Caton. Professor Susan Pharr, the Edwin O. Reischauer Professor of Japanese Politics in the Department of Government, joined The Harvard Academy in 1993. During her tenure as a Senior Scholar, Professor Pharr deliberated in over eighty selection committee scrambled-eggs-and-bacon breakfast meetings at the Harvard Faculty Club, participated in over 100 Academy Scholar presentations, and took part in the interviews of over 280 finalists for the postdoctoral fellowships. She proudly wears the badge of the longest-serving Senior Scholar: twenty-eight years.

Professor Steve Caton, Khalid Bin Abdullah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies in the Department of Anthropology, will retire at the end of this academic year. Professor Caton joined The Harvard Academy as a Senior Scholar in 2008. In his thirteen years as a Senior Scholar, Professor Caton has participated in numerous selection meetings and Academy Scholar presentations and has provided valuable professional guidance to the Academy Scholars.

Bruce Jackan, The Harvard Academy executive officer since 2014, will also retire this year after deftly driving the administration of the program for the past seven years. He leaves as one of his legacies a new streamlined electronic application—a much-needed switch from the previous cumbersome, paper-based application process. For this we are all—applicants, staff, Academy Scholars, and Senior Scholars—extremely grateful. 

Zoom screenshot of Harvard Academy scholars and staff at their final celebration in May

More change is on the horizon: Professor Melani Cammett, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government, steps down on June 30 as chair of The Harvard Academy to become director of the Weatherhead Center. Fortunately, she will continue to serve as one of the Senior Scholars. Professor Cammett ably led The Harvard Academy through two of the most disruptive periods in our history; the Domínguez crisis aftermath in 2018 and the pandemic this year. Her sound judgement, calm presence, and compassion enabled the Academy Scholars to continue their work.

Professor Timothy J. Colton, Morris and Anna Feldberg Professor of Government and Russian Studies, will become The Harvard Academy chair on July 1. In addition to becoming the chair, Professor Colton also assumes the title of longest-serving Harvard Academy Senior Scholar: twenty-eight years. 

From spring 2020 through June 2021, pandemic-induced disruptions prevented the Academy Scholars from in-person interactions with one another, but Scholars continued their activities—from author conferences to research presentations—as best as possible via Zoom. At one presentation, Academy Scholars were separated by twelve time zones (India to the US West Coast)! And for the first time, Senior Scholars interviewed thirteen applicants via Zoom. Though in-person interviews are preferable, the online experience went well and may be used in the future.

Like the rest of the University, the Academy Scholars are anxious to occupy offices and return to on-campus activities. The pandemic has slowed research but has not derailed promising projects. We are optimistic that next year, Academy Scholars will enjoy research discussions over lunches, dinner presentations, and at Grafton Street gatherings. 

The Harvard Academy offers special thanks to Kathleen Hoover. Through the highs and lows, the routine and the extraordinary, Kathleen provides outstanding support to the chair, the Senior Scholars, Academy Scholars, and the executive officer. The Harvard Academy is fortunate to have her as both a program coordinator extraordinaire and someone with impeccable institutional memory during this time of significant transition.


  1. Left to right: Chester D. Haskell, Executive Secretary, 1986–2000; James Clem, Executive Officer, 2001–2006; Laurence Winnie, Executive Officer, 2007–2014; Bruce V. Jackan, Executive Officer, 2014–2021. Credit: used with permission from The Harvard Academy 
  2. The Harvard Academy celebrates the year with an end-of-year award ceremony and a special thank you to Susan Pharr, Steve Caton, and Bruce Jackan, who will be stepping down in their roles as Senior Scholars and Executive Officer, respectively. Credit: Kathleen Hoover