The Catholic University of America

Dec. 17, 2014

History Professor Receives Fellowship to Work in State Department

  Michael Kimmage, associate professor of history

Associate Professor of History Michael Kimmage will spend 2015 working across town from his hilltop office in Marist Hall. As Catholic University’s first Franklin Fellow, he will work at Foggy Bottom in the Department of State’s Office of Policy Planning.

The Franklin Fellows Program provides opportunities for experts with at least five years of relevant professional experience to devote one to two years of public service working for the Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

According to a fact sheet on the program, its goals are “for fellows to provide valuable advice, opinions, alternatives or recommendations on foreign and development policy” and for fellows to “enhance their own knowledge of government and of global issues, gaining valuable professional experience and enriching their nominating organizations and communities upon their return.”

Kimmage says candidates are given the opportunity to list three preferred offices at the State Department and/or USAID where they would like to be posted but with no guarantee that they will actually be accommodated. Kimmage says he was very happy to learn that he secured an appointment to his top choice — the Office of Policy Planning, which was established by George Kennan, one of the iconic figures of U.S. diplomacy in the second half of the 20th century.

“The Office of Policy Planning provides longer-term analytical thinking on the problems of the day,” Kimmage says. “It works directly for the Secretary of State.” Kimmage says he will be working on issues related to Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.

Kimmage received a Ph.D. in American studies from Harvard University in 2000. But he has a strong interest in Europe as well. As an undergraduate in history at Oberlin, he focused on Russian history. Subsequently he received a second B.A. in modern European history at Oxford University. He is fluent in German and Russian and has worked at universities in Germany and Lithuania.

According to Robert Dry, academic liaison for the Franklin Fellows Program, the program was conceived in 2007, toward the end of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s tenure, and admitted its first fellows in 2008. As of November 2014, 194 fellows have been admitted to the program, of whom 25 were serving during calendar year 2014.

Franklin Fellows are not compensated by the Department of State or USAID during their service. They come from colleges and universities, NGOs, and the private sector. According to an article in State Magazine, “those from academia are typically on sabbatical and sponsored by their universities.” Kimmage says that will be true in his case.

“Professor Kimmage’s expertise in American Studies and American history paired with his proficiency in several European languages make him a highly deserving candidate for this honor,” says Claudia Bornholdt, acting dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “This fellowship gives evidence of the wonderful opportunities Catholic University’s location in the nation’s capital offers to our faculty and students.” 


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