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June 22, 2000

University of Minnesota sociologist chosen as director of UCIS

After an international search, Pitt has named a new director for the University Center for International Studies (UCIS).

William I. Brustein, Distinguished McKnight University Professor and a Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, will become head of UCIS on Jan. 1.

In 1992, Brustein was named director of the Center for European Studies at Minnesota and held that position until 1995, when he became chair of the Department of Sociology. He was a visiting scholar at the Free University of Berlin in 1989 and at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1999.

In announcing the appointment, Provost James V. Maher wrote, "I have great confidence in Dr. Brustein's ability to provide the leadership that will ensure the maintenance and strengthening of the international dimension at the University of Pittsburgh. He clearly possesses relevant past administrative experience and has demonstrated an appreciation for the accomplishments realized by the University Center for International Studies as well as the challenges that it is facing."

Maher called Brustein a scholar of international stature in historical sociology. In addition to being UCIS director, Brustein will be a tenured professor in the Department of Sociology and a UCIS professor.

He will replace Burkart Holzner, who will step down June 30. Holzner will remain at Pitt as UCIS professor and professor of sociology and public and international affairs. He has been director of UCIS since 1980.

Maher announced that George E. Klinzing will be UCIS interim director, effective July 1. Klinzing is vice provost for research and professor of chemical engineering. He chaired the UCIS director search committee.

Brustein said his priorities as director will be to evaluate the structure of UCIS; build on the area studies programs to include other regions of the world; develop programs that reflect transna-tional themes; expand the Study Abroad program, and develop fund-raising strategies.

"First I want to continue the fine work of Burkart Holzner," Brustein said. "Pitt has an outstanding reputation in international studies and study-abroad programs. There are many strong points already in place at Pitt including a commitment by the Pittsburgh community. The board of advisers, for example, includes leaders in the corporate fields, many of whom have international connections."

Particularly noteworthy, Brustein said, is the National Resource Center designation enjoyed by the four UCIS area studies programs, and the European Union Center, one of only 10 nationally, which is housed in the Center for West European Studies at UCIS.

"I'd like to build the area studies focus into a strong global, or what I like to call transnational, perspective," he said. "In today's world there are many themes that cross national boundaries, like genocide, for example. We could also expand studies to cover some other areas of the world, including the Middle East and Africa and the Indian subcontinent, by looking at issues in a broad comparative perspective. This could include building programs in areas not clustered in regions.

"It won't happen overnight, but you publicize your programs, you attract scholars and, eventually, you try for Title VI status," he said, referring to the Higher Education Act under which the U.S. Department of Education authorizes National Resource Center designation.

"This does not mean you take resources away from the area studies programs that you have already established; they are our strength. But you can open them up across the University. We might eventually have transna-tional programs, such as a certificate program in global studies."

Regarding the structure of UCIS, which coordinates international activities campus-wide, Brustein said, "We are going to look at it. It is always that way: You can't ever stand still, no matter what, whether it's at the center level or even in your own research and teaching. We should always be evaluating ourselves. But we should not just jettison the established model, which, judging by what I know so far, I like. And what I especially like is the full institutional commitment to international studies that I see at Pitt."

Brustein said the first step in evaluating UCIS is to see how the center fits into the University's institutional priorities and overall strengths. "Then you look at what's cutting-edge in today's world. By that I mean emphasizing the transnational and looking at expanding interdisciplinary possibilities, including with Pitt's professional schools and the Honors College."

Brustein plans a new dimension for the Study Abroad program. "You don't throw out the traditional model, which works for many students: Go to a foreign country, live with a family or in a dorm; go to the university's classes, learn the language and the culture. Where our programs have been failing, I think, is we don't involve our undergraduates in what we as faculty do best, which is research. We need to get more students involved with Pitt faculty who are doing outstanding, leading research around the world, and who could benefit from undergrads working closely under their supervision. The students, of course, benefit as well."

Brustein said he envisions competitive funding opportunities offered in collaboration with the Honors College to sponsor student and faculty research projects abroad.

The director-designate acknowledged that he did not have broad fund-raising experience. "Mostly, I'm used to seeking federal funding and writing grant proposals," he said. "But I'm a quick learner. I want to get together with the UCIS area studies directors and other leaders of the center and the University and talk about common issues among them, including funding sources. I also think foundations are always looking for relevant and useful things to fund; but they're also looking for excellence, which UCIS has in abundance."

Brustein said the director of UCIS is in a position to influence state educational policy. "I have an abiding love for foreign languages and their importance. This country needs to model itself more on Europe as far as learning second languages and exposure to other cultures. I would hope state legislators and educational policy-makers would hear my arguments about that."

Brustein earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Connecticut, master's degrees in sociology at the University of Washington and in international studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a doctorate in sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

After serving on the sociology faculty at the University of Utah from 1981 to 1988, Brustein was named assistant professor in the sociology department at the University of Minnesota. He became an associate professor in 1989 and professor in 1994. That year he also was named adjunct professor in Minnesota's Department of Political Science.

Brustein was elected to the Sociological Research Association in 1996 and in 1998 was named a member of the National Science Foundation Sociology Panel, which advises the foundation on which research projects to fund.

His publications include "The Logic of Evil: The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925-1933," which won the 1997 James S. Coleman Distinguished Contribution to Rational-Choice Scholarship from the American Sociological Association, Rational-Choice Section.

Brustein also received awards for exceptional teaching while at Utah and Minnesota. "I still love teaching. I expect to eventually work my way back into it. But I'm not sure when. Certainly not next spring when I first arrive. I need to get up to speed first on being the director."

Asked his age, Brustein said, "I'm 52 — going on 28. I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for this position and I can't wait to get started."

–Peter Hart

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