Georgetown Faculty Object to Renaming Foreign Affairs School After Madeleine Albright

Petition says ‘gross human rights violations’ disqualify first female Secretary of State from honor

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June 16, 2023

A petition to stop Georgetown University from renaming its Walsh School of Foreign Service after the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright due to her ties to "gross human rights violations" has received over 1,300 signatures from faculty, students and, alumni, according to the far-left organizers spearheading the campaign.

The objections could sink the proposal, currently under consideration by Georgetown’s administration, to rename the school in honor of Albright, the first female secretary of state who passed away last year.

Critics claim that Albright, who served under the Clinton administration, "supported some of the U.S. government’s most devastating interventions in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and South Eastern Europe."

"By moving ahead with this project, the University would honor a name associated with gross human rights violations," said the petition.

Protestors say that Albright oversaw the Clinton administration’s sanctions against Iraq, which were imposed in response to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s buildup of weapons stockpiles and refusal to cooperate with international arms inspectors. Hussein’s lawless actions led to the death of half a million Iraqi children under the sanctions.

"When asked many years later to comment on the half a million Iraqi children who died as a consequence of the drastic sanctions imposed on Iraq during her tenure, Madeleine Albright’s answer was ‘the price was worth it,’" said the petition. "These facts are well known among the SFS faculty, students, and alumni, and suggest that a renaming would be met with considerable unease and opposition in the School."

Georgetown University President John DeGioia is expected to make a final decision on the renaming soon.

According to a source familiar with the internal debate, about half of the foreign service school’s faculty objects to the renaming. The university press office declined to comment on the petition.

The Walsh School of Foreign Service is one of the top international relations programs in the United States and a training ground for many Washington diplomats. Albright was a former professor at the school.

Marwa Daoudy, an associate professor at SFS who helped organize the protest, said the petition "received +1300 signatures... largely from our great community of SFS alumni and students!" since it was launched last week.

Samar Saeed, another organizer, called the renaming proposal "a disgrace."

"I honestly don’t know how this aligns with @Georgetown values of ‘women and men for others,’" she said.

The Washington Free Beacon reached out to faculty members who declined to publicly voice support for Albright – potentially a reflection of the traction the protest has gained on campus. President Bill Clinton, a School of Foreign Service alumnus, also did not respond to a request for comment.

The School of Foreign Service is currently named after its founder Edmund A. Walsh, a Jesuit priest, and staunch anti-Communist who advocated for preemptive nuclear strikes against the Soviet Union. Some faculty members and students have also objected to the renaming because they say it erases Walsh’s legacy at the school, which he founded in 1919 at the age of 34.