Ex-Diplomat Named New I-House Head

Contact Cristina Bautista at [email protected]

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A former U.S. diplomat was named the new executive director of the International House effective July 1, campus officials announced Friday.

Martin Brennan, a former U.S. ambassador to Uganda and Zambia, will replace current director Joe Lurie, who has led the house for nearly 20 years.

“Martin Brennan’s background is a wonderful fit for International House and for Berkeley,” Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said in a statement. “Not only will Martin provide the expertise and vision needed to direct International House into the future, he will also serve as a great role model for residents of the House and for all Berkeley students studying and working in international studies.”

Brennan, who earned his bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley in 1971, currently serves as a diplomat-in-residence at the University of New Mexico. A Bay Area native, he said he felt compelled to apply to run the unique house and that assuming the position has a “homecoming” feel.

“In my view it’s the kind of job where one can make a difference,” he said. “It’s definitely a job that makes a difference.”

Brennan said he hopes his professional background will help him become acclimated to running the I-House.

“I’ve served abroad in any number of countries and in different parts of the world, worked with different cultures and languages. I’ve also had the good fortune of being on a university campus for the past 18 months,” he said.

Brennan’s appointment marks the end of a nine-month, international search for Lurie’s replacement. A committee of I-House board members and campus and student representatives evaluated more than 100 applications, said Joan Kask, assistant dean of administration in International and Area Studies Dean John Lie’s office.

“We looked for somebody who was dedicated to international studies and affairs, someone who had students’ interests at heart, projected a vision for I-House and demonstrated good management,” she said.

Lurie said he is confident that Brennan will effectively tackle a number of issues, including ongoing house renovations and continuing to build a strong financial base.

But Brennan’s biggest initial challenge will likely be getting used to the dynamics of the house, Lurie said.

“It seems that the most difficult thing for people is usually just tackling the transition of change,” he said.

Brennan said he looks forward to continuing programs instituted under Lurie’s leadership and plans to ensure that I-House remains a “catalyst for international understanding and friendship.”


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