Remembering SFS Dean Jesse A. Mann, 1922-2016

Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service is sad to announce the death of former SFS dean Jesse Mann on April 10, 2016. Although his term was a brief two years—from 1968-1970—his actions to strengthen the School just as it was turning 50 years old have left a lasting impact on SFS that ensured that it could survive another 50 years.

Michael Karam, former student of Dean Mann and current Senator for the Georgetown University Alumni Association Board of Governors, wrote some thoughts about Mann’s impact on SFS.

 Reflections From a Former Student

deanFormer SFS Dean Jesse A. Mann died at the age of 94 on April 10, 2016. Dean Mann, a Georgetown alumnus, served on the Georgetown faculty from 1947 until 1997, a 50-year span from the immediate post WW II era to the cusp of a new century. He served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department for about a decade and in 1968, he was named as interim Dean of the School of Foreign Service from 1968 until 1970. His two-year decanal tenure came at an especially critical time for the school founded by Father Edmund Walsh, S.J. in 1919. Dean Mann bridged the tenures of Deans Joseph Sebes, S.J. and Dean Peter Krogh, in a time of great transformational change in the School of Foreign Service. Dean Mann presided over the 50th Anniversary celebration of the School of Foreign Service in 1969 and he highlighted the celebration with a three-day conference to “examine and evaluate the curriculum and structure of the school.”

In one of his early acts, Dean Mann appointed an ad hoc committee to plan for a new school curriculum. In March 1969, Dean Mann presented a resolution from the SFS executive faculty calling for the creation of a core faculty and a separate budget for the school. Under the resolution, professors who wished might be primarily identified as SFS faculty with a secondary appointment as faculty within a given department. Salaries would be determined by the SFS and tenure and promotion would come from the school. The resolution also affirmed that the SFS dean was the administrative head of the school directly responsible to the President. This resolution passed intact.

Dean Mann was what in today’s parlance we would call “a deep thinker” He was often prescient in the role of education in the formation of curricular structure and in experiential learning. In an article entitled, “Relevancy of the SFS to Society,” published in a special The Hoya Review in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the School of Foreign Service, Dean Mann urged the school to prize three characteristics that typified Father Edmund A. Walsh’s own pedagogy: “excellence of teaching, a capacity for innovation, and the courage to be relevant.”  And 45 years before Georgetown embarked upon its Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative, Dean Mann advocated for the initiation of new programs not only in content but also in style. He wrote: “I expect to develop programs of independent study, student internships in the embassies and in the departments of state and commerce, and credit for relevant experience over-seas.”

Frank Murray, SFS’72, L’75, who worked closely with Dean Mann as the School of Foreign Service’s Student Academic Representative and later served as Energy Secretary for the State of New York under Governor Mario Cuomo, fondly remembers Jesse Mann as follows:

Jesse Mann was the right person in the right place at the right time.  A man of great integrity, he provided quiet leadership at a time of great turmoil both within the SFS and outside the University gates – exactly what the times called for.  Dean Mann was not boisterous nor flamboyant.  His leadership was reflected in how he treated others and the example he set in his actions. I will always remember his smile, his generosity, his commitment to students and his love of Georgetown.

After Dean Peter Krogh arrived on the Hilltop in Fall 1971, Dean Mann returned to the Philosophy Department, although he remained on the core faculty of the School of Foreign Service. Among other things, Professor Mann taught “American Pragmatism,” shared his love for John Dewey with students for another 25+ years, and served for over 10 years as the Faculty Representative to the NCAA for the Athletic Department.

Jesse Mann was a faculty legend, beloved and respected by his students, faculty colleagues and university administrators alike. And for those, who like me, were privileged to have him as my dean for the first two years at Georgetown, he personified the Jesuit ideal of being a man in service to others. He will be sorely missed!

Respectfully submitted,
Michael E Karam, SFS’72, L’76, L’81
Senator, Georgetown University Alumni Association Board of Governors
John Carroll Award Recipient 2012