As the M2 integration process has unfolded over the last two years, we at MIIS and our Middlebury colleagues have focused our attention on the legal and infrastructural issues – finance, HR, information systems, advancement, and communications – that need to be resolved in order for our two institutions to become one on June 30, 2010.  Throughout this period, we have never lost sight of the broader purpose of our efforts:  to realize the exponential power of M2 to prepare global professionals to be the solution to the world’s most critical problems.

As we begin the bridge-building process, I have asked Tsuneo Akaha to take on the role of M2 Academic Programs Coordinator effective March 1, 2009. In his new role, Tsuneo will report to me, and will chair an M2 Academic Program Committee that will include the Monterey Institute’s academic leadership and faculty from across the Institute.  The entire membership will be announced shortly. Tsuneo will be responsible for developing productive relationships with the Academic Programs group at Middlebury, and will begin the process of exploring the best ways to build on shared strengths in the academic realm.  The Middlebury Academic Programs group is chaired by Michael Geisler, Vice President for the Language Schools, Schools Abroad, Graduate, and Special Programs, and includes academic leaders from throughout the Middlebury community.

Initial priority areas for the M2 Academic Program Committee will include developing programs that build on established strengths — languages and linguistics, international policy and management, and international environmental policy.

These efforts will not only help to build a strong integrated academic community between our two institutions, but will also result in exciting new opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff, such as strengthened program links with the Middlebury Study Abroad sites, Language Schools, shared faculty speaker series, more J-Term classes that leverage each of our strengths, collaborative faculty research projects, and additional internship options abroad. Tsuneo will also ensure that these programmatic efforts mesh well with infrastructural integration by coordinating with Amy McGill, who chairs the M2 Finance, Operations and Communications group here, and collaborates with counterparts at Middlebury.

Professor Akaha brings to these responsibilities extensive experience at the Monterey Institute, having been a faculty member here since 1989, and an active participant in many Institute and GSIPS initiatives and faculty committees.  He also regularly teaches in our Monterey Model courses, collaborating with the language studies colleagues as well as offering content courses in his native language of Japanese.  Professor Akaha established and has directed the Center for East Asian Studies which sponsors research, guest lectures, visiting scholars, and seminars, as well as internships and scholarships to students studying in this region.  Reflected in all of these activities is his commitment to providing our students with the subject knowledge and skills required for critical analysis of international policy and area studies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific context, and to work collaboratively with his colleagues here and internationally on the central challenges of our time, ranging from peace and security issues to human rights and migration concerns.

Professor Akaha specializes in Japanese foreign and security policy, international relations of the Asia Pacific, international political economy, and international marine affairs. He came to the U.S. as an AFS student during high school, then was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tokyo and Seikei University (Tokyo), and a Japan Foundation Research Fellow at Hokkaido University’s Slavic Research Center (Sapporo).  He has served as President of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast (ASPAC) and is on the editorial board of International Relations of the Asia-Pacific.  His own publications include numerous books (such as The Future of North Korea; Politics and Economics in Northeast Asia:  Nationalism and Regionalism in Contention; and co-editor of Crossing National Borders: Human Migration Issues in Northeast Asia; and articles in such journals as American Political Science Review, Journal of Asian Studies, Asian Survey, Peace Forum, and Brown Journal of World Affairs.

I am grateful to Tsuneo for accepting this challenge at a critical point in the integration process, and I am confident that his leadership will play a significant role in realizing the tremendous potential for collaboration and innovation that lies at the heart of the MIIS-Middlebury integration process.

All of the areas discussed above are, have been, and will be critical to the Institute’s success.  As we move forward with our reorganization and integration activities with Middlebury, it is important to step back and acknowledge the hard work that each of these areas have done in support of the new academic organization and integration with Middlebury.  These changes, along with those occurring in the academic programs, will create a revitalized organizational structure geared to address the professional graduate educational challenges of today, allowing us to remain flexible, dynamic, and relevant.  It will also provide us a solid organizational foundation critical to a successful full integration with Middlebury College in the summer of 2010.


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