Culture / Newsy

Founder of Rice University’s Famed Baker Institute to Retire After 28 Years of Building the World’s No. 1 Think Tank

Making Houston a Center of Public Policy

BY // 10.01.21

Distinguished diplomat and former ambassador Edward Djerejian revealed on Thursday that he is retiring from his post as founding director of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy on June 30, 2022, marking the conclusion of 28 years of building the institute into one of the most prestigious in the world.

In January of this year, the Baker Institute was ranked No. 1 among the best university-affiliated think tanks in the world, up from No. 2 the previous year, according to the 2020 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report. The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program also ranked the institute’s Center for Energy Studies No. 1 among the world’s energy- and resource-policy think tanks.

Under Djerejian’s leadership, the institute has evolved into a noted global forum for national and world leaders, including five former U.S. presidents from Gerald Ford to Barack Obama. Today, the institute is noted for its six centers of research and seven research programs, all of which are intertwined with Rice University’s educational mission.

“The institute is where it is today because of Ed Djerejian’s tireless attention to detail, his consistent demand for excellence at every level and his keen insight about how to establish, improve and maintain a first-rate university-affiliated think tank,” former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, honorary chair and namesake of the Baker Institute, said in a statement. “His focus and determination have guaranteed that the institute has indeed become that ‘bridge between the world of ideas and the world of action’ that I had hoped it would be when it opened in 1994.”

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Edward Djerejian has announced his upcoming retirement from his post as director of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. (courtesy photo)

Baker tapped Djerejian, who had enjoyed a distinguished career in the U.S. Foreign Service including serving as ambassador to Israel, to launch the institute in 1994.

“Our outreach now extends well beyond our campus and local community to the nation and the world,” Djerejian said in announcing his retirement. “In this respect, I wish to commend our stellar roster of fellows and scholars whose data-driven and non-partisan findings and policy recommendations impact the highest spheres of academia and the public and private sectors. Equally important, the institute’s work could not have been possible without the dedication and performance of our excellent professional staff.”

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Djerejian and Leebron Going Out Together

Coincidentally, Rice University president David Leebron, who has led the system since 2004, previously announced that he is retiring on June 30, 2022 — the same date Djerejian picked. An interesting parallel, both men are married to remarkable women who have been instrumental in their professional successes — Francoise Djerejian and Y. Ping Sun, Leebron’s wife.

Commenting on Djerejian’s retirement, Leebron noted, “On every front, he has raised the visibility and reputation of the institute and sagely expanded the scope of its mission. Ed has built a strong relationship with participating faculty across the university and created opportunities for our students.

“He has truly made the Baker Institute a vital and globally renowned part of the university. We will forever be in Ambassador Djerejian’s debt for nurturing to impact and excellence one of the foremost jewels of Rice.”

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