Ros-Lehtinen named UM Distinguished Presidential Fellow

U.S. Congresswoman and Chairman Emerita of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen named a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at the University of Miami.
U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

From serving the needs of young learners and their families as an elementary school teacher and principal, to deliberating on themajor foreign policy issues facing the nation as chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a celebrated and dedicated public servant with a wealth of experience and inside understanding of U.S. foreign policy. 

After 29 years as U.S. Representative for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen will continue her extraordinary service to the South Florida community by reconnecting with her passion for education as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at the University of Miami. She will begin a multi-year engagement starting in January 2019 when she will teach a course on Congress and American Foreign Policy during the spring semester. 

“I am delighted to welcome Ileana Ros-Lehtinen back to her alma mater after an illustrious career in Congress. She has always maintained a close relationship with her hometown, and we are proud that she will join our academic community as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow. We look forward to her active participation, which will no doubt enrich the experience of our students and faculty,” said University of Miami President Julio Frenk.

The University has established the Distinguished Presidential Fellows and Scholars initiative as part of its efforts to attract some of the world’s most celebrated and accomplished scholars and thinkers to interact with the University community. These individuals are invited to contribute their unique perspectives and talents to the University’s mission of fostering inquiry, expanding knowledge, and pursuing novel solutions to urgent issues.

“I’m excited to be back home at the U where I will have the challenging opportunity to exchange ideas with today’s bright minds and future leaders on the vexing foreign policy issues confronting our nation,” said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.

The initial course will examine the role of Congress in the making of American foreign policy, with special emphasis on the Cold War period and onward and will cover a wide range of topics, including war powers and the use of coercive force, foreign economic and military aid, recognition of governments, trade policy, immigration and executive agreements. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen will be joined in the classroom by her husband, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Dexter Lehtinen, a lecturer at the Miami School of Law, former Florida legislator, decorated Vietnam veteran, and University of Miami alumnus. 

“My colleagues and I are thrilled with Ileana’s appointment as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow and with the course that she will be jointly teaching with Dexter this spring. Sharing lessons from their extensive government experience will be a unique and enriching opportunity for our students to gain insights about realities of the legislative process and the challenge of formulating American foreign and domestic policy,” said Professor Jonathan West, chair of the Department of Political Science and chair of the Master in Public Administration program in the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Born in Havana, Cuba, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s own trajectory was shaped by her family’s decision to flee the communist regime of Fidel Castro and set down permanent roots in Miami, an experience shared by tens of thousands in South Florida. She earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1972, Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Education from Florida International University in 1975 and 1985 respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami in 2004. She was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives in 1982 and the Florida Senate in 1986, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in either body. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress, where she is Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and current Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. She has also served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

Noting the excitement the announcement has generated, political science associate professors Joseph Uscinski and Casey Klofstad remarked that both faculty and students will benefit from Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen’s depth of experience and knowledge. 

“We are all very excited to welcome her to the Political Science Department, and to the greater University community,” Uscinski said. “She will be an amazing resource.”