Tributes to a Professor’s Work and Wide Influence
Alumni reflect on the profound impact of Professor Thomas G. Weiss, who is retiring this year.
Alumni, students, and faculty gathered last Friday to pay tribute to Presidential Professor Thomas G. Weiss (Political Science, Liberal Studies), who is retiring this year after 25 years at the Graduate Center.
Weiss worked at the United Nations for a decade before moving into academia and studying the U.N. and its efficacy. He has since written scores of books on the history and workings of the U.N. and on international relations. He has also mentored scores of students in his roles as a Political Science professor and as director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center.
Several of those students and former students, who are now pursuing careers in academia, policy, and diplomacy, came to honor Weiss. Here, they reflect on his impact on their lives and on the field of international relations.
Nicholas R. Micinski (Ph.D. ’19, Political Science), Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Maine
“Tom Weiss leaves an immense legacy at the Graduate Center. He is a consummate institution-builder, making the Ralph Bunche Institute an intellectual hub for the study of multilateralism and the United Nations. He is a global convener with the social capital to bring together ambassadors, practitioners, policy wonks, academics, and students for conferences and workshops around the world. And he is a thoughtful mentor who supported generations of GC students through 6 a.m. emails, detailed feedback on rough drafts, and an open door as we grew into scholars, practitioners, and diplomats. His legacy will continue throughout the halls of the GC, D.C., and the U.N.
Danielle Zach (Ph.D. ’13, Political Science), Assistant Professor of Political Science and Human Rights at The City College of New York
“Tom Weiss has been a dear mentor and friend for over two decades. It is difficult to overstate what an important role he played in my graduate career and journey since. Working at the Ralph Bunche Institute with such a prominent figure in the field of international relations, who steadfastly encouraged the intellectual and professional development of his students, was an invaluable experience. His generous mentorship and prolific scholarship continue to expand the horizons of my own teaching and research."
Peter J. Hoffman (Ph.D. ’12, Political Science), Associate Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs at The New School.
“At first, I was daunted to work with Tom — he’d seemingly written more books on international politics than I’d ever read on any subject! — but he was always kind and supportive, open to hearing my ideas and cultivating me to own them. Studying with Tom was not mere schooling in a body of knowledge, it was also training in the art of knowledge production. Being his research assistant and later a co-author was the gateway to finding my voice and diligently refining it.”
Tatiana Carayannis (Ph.D. ’17, Political Science), Director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum and the Understanding Violent Conflict program at the Social Science Research Council; co-author with Weiss of The Third UN: How Knowledge Brokers Help the UN Think
“Tom is an incredibly efficient writer. For most of us, if we set aside two hours to write, we’ll spend the first hour making coffee, petting the cat, checking email, and looking for our last draft. Tom, on the other hand, will sit down and write for two solid hours. Writing with Tom makes procrastination impossible, as he always gets his bits done on time (or early) and then comes looking for his co-authors as the friendliest of cattle prods. It’s no wonder he’s such a prolific writer.”
Eli Karetny (Ph.D. ’18, Political Science), Deputy Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
“In everything Tom does in and out of academia, he demonstrates extraordinary productivity, depth of knowledge and insight, good character and equanimity, and diverse abilities that reinforce each other. As a teacher and mentor, author and editor, adviser, and even as a whittler, Tom's excellence shines through.”
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