As a diplomat, Lee A. Feinstein has made a career of crossing borders.
So it's probably no surprise that Mr. Feinstein, who served as ambassador to Poland from 2009 to 2012, would be attracted to a role in higher education that spans the boundaries that often spring up within academe. He has been named founding dean of Indiana University's School of Global and International Studies.
The new school will draw on the university's longstanding international strengths—the Bloomington campus offers some 70 foreign languages and is home to 11 federally supported area-studies centers. But the new institute will also be highly interdisciplinary, working on collaborative programs with other divisions, such as the schools of business and public affairs. Mr. Feinstein, who holds a law degree from Georgetown University as well as a master's in political science from the City University of New York, will have a joint appointment in the law school.
The modern-day diplomat, he believes, must be as conversant in economics as in a foreign language. "The old lens of what constitutes foreign affairs has gotten much broader," he says. At Indiana, "there's a real opportunity for collaboration."
Mr. Feinstein, who is 53, says he was attracted by the prospect of building something from the ground up and by the university's international objectives. Michael A. McRobbie, Indiana's president, has called the global-studies school's creation one of the most important developments in the university's nearly 200-year history.
Before becoming ambassador to Poland, Mr. Feinstein served as national-security director to Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination and later as a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama during his presidential campaign that year. He has also worked for the U.S. State and Defense Departments.
A scholar of foreign affairs as well as a practitioner, Mr. Feinstein has held research appointments at the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations and has taught at the City University of New York, George Washington University, and the University of Georgia.
He assumes his new post in January and will move from Washington to Bloomington in the spring, after his two children finish the current school year.