Professor Safwan M. Masri Appointed as Vice President for Global Centers

July 26, 2012
Safwan M. Masri

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Safwan M. Masri as vice president for Global Centers. Professor Kenneth Prewitt, who has served in that capacity since the position’s creation in 2009, will remain in a senior advisory role helping to chart the future course of Columbia’s globalization efforts. Today there are eight Columbia Global Centers located in Amman, Beijing, Paris, Mumbai, Istanbul, Santiago, Nairobi, and Rio de Janeiro.

Managing the evolution of the Global Centers is critically important to Columbia’s future and to the University’s mission of educating leaders for a global society. Safwan is exceptionally well prepared to assume this role. Safwan has been a member of the Columbia Business School faculty since 1988 and was appointed vice dean in 1993, a position he held for thirteen years. Safwan has been director of the Global Center in Amman, Jordan since its founding in 2009. The twin hallmarks of the Amman center are the success in serving as a regional Middle East hub for scholarship and research, and the numerous productive partnerships forged with Columbia’s deans and faculty resulting in new academic programming. Under Safwan’s leadership, the Columbia Global Centers | Middle East has collaborated with Teachers College to train more than 2,500 Jordanian teachers to date, established the Institute for Sustainable Development Practice in partnership with the Columbia Earth Institute, is helping to build an exemplary social work profession in Jordan in cooperation with the Columbia School of Social Work, and created the Amman Lab as part of the Studio-X network developed by Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

As chair of the Columbia Global Centers Director Group, Safwan has been sharing this experience and supporting the formation of new academic and research partnerships made possible for the first time by virtue of the network of Columbia Global Centers now on four continents. He has travelled to each Columbia Global Center and provided guidance for raising their respective regional profiles.

Safwan holds degrees in industrial engineering from Purdue, and he received a doctoral degree from Stanford in industrial engineering and engineering management. He has been honored as the Singhvi Professor of the Year for Scholarship in the Classroom, and received the Robert W. Lear Service Award, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching a Core Course, and the American Service Award from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Finally, we are very fortunate to retain Ken Prewitt’s vision and experience in a senior advisory role as Safwan takes over as vice president. Ken has led the Columbia Global Centers since their inception, helping the University to engage the vast global frontier of knowledge in a more comprehensive and structured manner than ever before. He will continue to develop our Fifth Year pilot program for undergraduates selected for an individualized course of study tied to one or more of Columbia’s centers. I can’t thank him enough both for what he has accomplished and for what he will continue to do on behalf of global education at Columbia.

Please join me in congratulating and thanking Ken and Safwan, and wishing them well in realizing the full promise of the Columbia Global Centers and in helping to provide the unsurpassed global education offered by Columbia University.


Lee C. Bollinger