Mitchell Smith named director of School of International Affairs

Mitchell Smith
Dr. Mitchell Smith has been named the director of the Penn State School of International Affairs (SIA), effective July 1, 2023. Credit: Andy Gabriel/Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Dr. Mitchell Smith has been named the director of the Penn State School of International Affairs (SIA), effective July 1. Smith previously served as the associate dean for academic affairs at the David L. Boren College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma, having also previously served as interim dean of that college.

As SIA’s director, Smith will lead a graduate program that enrolls around 120 total students and offers an interdisciplinary, professional master’s degree, an Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) program, several graduate certificates, and a joint Juris Doctor/Master of International Affairs program with Penn State Law in University Park.

Smith will succeed Dr. Elizabeth Ransom, who has been serving as interim director. Ransom will remain with the SIA faculty as an associate professor of international affairs and senior research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute.

“Mitchell Smith is a seasoned administrator and accomplished academic who brings a wealth of experience to the School of International Affairs,” said Victor Romero, interim dean of Penn State Law in University Park and the School of International Affairs, Maureen B. Cavanaugh Distinguished Faculty Scholar, and professor of law. “I look forward to working with him as he helps chart the school’s path forward during this critical juncture. I am also very grateful for the leadership of interim director Elizabeth Ransom, whose institutional knowledge will ease Smith’s transition into his new role.”

An expert in comparative and international political economy, with a particular emphasis on European integration, Smith was also previously the director of Oklahoma University's European Union Center. He has been a Fulbright Fellow in European Union Affairs and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, Belgium. He also has been a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

“I'm excited to get started on this endeavor, helping to lead the School of International Affairs toward a bright future,” Smith said. “The much-anticipated move to the Susan Welch Liberal Arts Building in 2025 will facilitate efforts to broaden collaboration across campus and draw on the many strengths of Penn State.

“SIA will continue to attract diverse cohorts of outstanding students and to innovate in international affairs education. We will provide students with unmatched professional socialization and career opportunities. Working with outstanding faculty and staff colleagues in SIA and in partnership with a reunified law school at Penn State, we will further raise the national profile of the School of International Affairs.”

After receiving his B.A. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, Smith spent two years as an economic analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. He earned his Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs, where he studied international political economy, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University's Department of Politics.

Smith's work has appeared in West European Politics, Journal of Legislative Studies, Politics & Society, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of European Public Policy, German Politics, and other journals. He is author of States of Liberalization (SUNY Press, 2005), which examines the impact of the European Union's single market on the role of the public sector in West European countries, and Environmental and Health Regulation in the United States and the European Union: Protecting Public and Planet (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), a comparative study of environmental regulation in the United States and European Union. Smith also is editor of Europe and National Economic Transformation: The EU After the Lisbon Decade (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and co-editor of Legitimacy and the European Union: The Contested Polity (Routledge, 1999). He is currently completing a book on the perceptual divide among publics in the U.S. and the UK and the resulting damage to democracy.

The Penn State School of International Affairs’ mission is to prepare exceptional students for careers and leadership positions in both the private and public sectors of an increasingly globalized world. SIA fulfills this mission through a flexible degree program taught by elite, interdisciplinary faculty; experiential learning, including internship and education abroad opportunities; and a dedicated Office of Career Services that works with each individual student.