Following the publication of this article, the U.S. Department of State reversed its decision to suspend two classes of the Thomas R. Pickering and Charles B. Rangel international affairs fellowships, upholding its prior commitment to hire fellows to career positions in the U.S. foreign service, the department announced on June 29, 2017.
The State Department informed the most recent class of the Thomas R. Pickering and Rangel International Affairs Fellows that they will not have an opportunity to become career candidates in the U.S. Foreign Service at this time. Instead, they were offered temporary positions in consular affairs. SFS is concerned and disappointed by this news. The suspension of A-100 classes for graduating fellows is a breach of trust for the fellows and has serious implications for SFS students and the U.S. Foreign Service as an institution. On behalf of the SFS, Dean Joel Hellman expressed concerns in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on June 21, 2017, expressing support for the Pickering and Rangel programs as essential components of a diverse, talented Foreign Service. The suspension of the capstone component of those programs “jeopardizes not only this cohort of remarkable fellows, but threatens to impact future generations, who will never be certain again if the commitments they worked so hard to achieve in their graduate education will be met with the promised career paths that motivated their course of study,” Hellman wrote.
June 21, 2017
Dear Secretary Tillerson,
As the oldest school of international affairs in the United States and the largest feeder school into the U.S. Foreign Service, the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University has been proud to train generations of young women and men committed to service to the world and to representing the interests of the United States both here and abroad. Our Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering, has worked for decades to enhance our understanding of the critical role that diplomacy plays in our national security and prosperity.
We are particularly proud to be a destination of choice for so many Pickering and Rangel Fellows, the premier graduate fellowship programs in international affairs. We believe that these programs represent the American government at its best. The Pickering and Rangel Fellowships provide extraordinary incentives to attract some of the brightest students in the country to the U.S. Foreign Service. In an increasingly competitive job market, where the gap between the private and public sectors is becoming ever wider and the burden of student debt is shaping career choices, these fellowships go a long way to leveling the playing field among career paths and ensuring that the public sector attracts the next generation of America’s most talented global leaders.
More importantly, the Pickering and Rangel Fellowships have been critical to ensure that the U.S. builds a foreign service that looks like America in all its wonderful diversity. As a Jesuit institution built on the principles of diversity and inclusion, we at Georgetown have been privileged to welcome the greater diversity that Pickering and Rangel Fellows bring to our own campus. We want to ensure that this very same diversity continues to transform the cadres that represent the United States abroad. This was the spirit that motivated Congress to authorize these programs nearly two decades ago. Much has improved in this area, precisely because of the Pickering and Rangel Fellowships. But much remains to be done.
It is against this background that we write to express our deep concern about the recent decision to suspend indefinitely the July and September A-100 classes and prevent the Pickering and Rangel Fellows from becoming Career Candidates in the Foreign Service. Such a move would appear to break the bonds of trust that the programs have established among their recipients over many years. It jeopardizes not only this cohort of remarkable fellows, but threatens to impact future generations, who will never be certain again if the commitments they have worked so hard to achieve in their graduate education will be met with the promised career paths that motivated their course of study.
These programs are vital to the future of American diplomacy and security. They ensure that the next generation of leaders will be ready to tackle the many challenges facing this nation in a changing world order. We remain fully committed to our Pickering and Rangel Fellows. We urge the State Department to do likewise by holding a Fall 2017 A-100 class for Pickering and Rangel Fellows who are eager to serve their country as Career Candidate Foreign Service Officers. The safety and prosperity of our nation will be all the better for it.
Walsh School of Foreign Service