Foreign policy expert leads lecture on Putin

The 2023 S.T. Lee Lecture featured leading foreign policy expert, Dr. Fiona Hill, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. She was recently appointed as chancellor of Durham University, U.K. Hill has also served as the deputy assistant to the president and a former senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council.  

On January 26, 2023, Hill joined James Wertsch, the David R. Francis Distinguished Professor, for a conversation about “The World Putin Wants” in a packed Clark-Fox Forum at Washington University in St. Louis. This event took place under the auspices of the Assembly Series, Washington University’s signature lectureship, which has a rich tradition of bringing distinguished speakers to campus since 1953. Now reimagined under the university’s strategic plan, Here and Next, the Assembly Series brings speakers to discuss areas of focus from the plan, including a global perspective. 

Hill’s visit to campus included additional meetings with students and faculty. Kurt Dirks, Senior Advisor to the Chancellor for Leadership, moderated a meet-up and dinner discussion with approximately 60 McDonnell Scholars. Hill shared personal stories about her “improbable journey” from the North East of England to the White House and her reflections on leadership and public service. Her curiosity about the world led her to destinations around the globe and she embodies what it means to be a McDonnell Scholar: global mindset, community, and leadership. In describing her success, Hill emphasized the importance of her network and collaboration. She has advised presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. When asked how she avoided getting entangled in politics under various administrations, Hill encouraged Scholars to understand their purpose. By knowing her purpose and job responsibility, she avoided being entangled in power dynamics. Hill was a personable and dynamic speaker while sharing her wealth of knowledge with the Scholars.  

The next morning, Hill offered advice to undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in public policy. This meeting was organized in partnership with the Career Center’s Amy Heath-Carpentier and the Government & Public Policy Work Group. Hill also made a surprise guest appearance in Krister Knapp’s class on “Hot Peace: U.S. Russia Relations Since the Cold War.” 

The S.T. Lee Lecture, McDonnell Academy dinner, and additional engagements with our campus community created unique learning opportunities for students and contributed to our dialogue on important global issues. 

Scholar Meet-Up Photo Gallery & KMOX interview link