Exclusive: Is State Dept. #2 Steinberg On His Way Out?

Exclusive: Is State Dept. #2 Steinberg On His Way Out?

Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg is being considered for the job of dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, multiple sources close to the process told The Cable.

Steinberg, the number-two official at the State Department, is widely regarded as a top-tier academic and most recently served as dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, but has faced some turbulence since landing in Foggy Bottom.

Reportedly disappointed after initially angling for a higher position, Steinberg has taken on a broad portfolio at State, both as Secretary Hillary Clinton‘s deputy and focusing on Asia as his personal policy domain. But some State Department bureaucrats privately gripe about what they see as Steinberg’s sometimes intrusive style, and some of his policy proposals have been seen as poorly coordinated with the other parts of the policy community. “He’s a brilliant guy, but just not a great fit for that job,” said one administration source.

According to two sources familiar with the process, Steinberg has expressed an interest in applying for the job. The search committee has also met with individuals close to Steinberg, to hear their recommendations for him. Sources said the search committee is still narrowing the candidate list and conducting interviews, before making any recommendations to the university president.

When asked if he was a candidate for the job by The Cable, Steinberg said by email, “It would be news to me.”

The leading contender, according to insiders, is the current acting Dean Carol Lancaster. A graduate of the School of Foreign Service herself, Lancaster was once deputy administrator of USAID and is a tenured professor there now. Other potential candidates, according to sources, include former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, Princeton University professor Tom Christensen, and former State Department official Marc Grossman. Grossman told The Cable he was contacted about the job, but he is not a candidate. The others did not respond to requests for comment.

“Carol has brilliantly checked boxes,” said Robert Gallucci, the immediate past dean, who now heads the MacArthur Foundation after stepping down from the School of Foreign Service after 13 years.  Gallucci worked with Lancaster on the State Department’s policy planning staff under Anthony Lake, another Georgetown professor.

Gallucci is not part of the search committee, but talked with The Cable about the process and what the school might be looking for.

“It’s a wonderful, challenging job with great opportunity to impact young people who will be in positions of leadership in the international sphere,” Gallucci said, adding, “Somebody who had success in the policy world, more likely in government service, could bring something special to the shaping of these minds and the atmosphere of this school.”

UPDATE: Steinberg wrote to The Cable after this story posted, “I have not talked with or been contacted by anyone at GSFS or Georgetown Univeristy… I have not met with the search committee.”