SFSU Public Affairs Press Release
Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA-- September 2, 1998 -- Ambassador David Fischer, a career diplomat with more than 30 years of foreign service in a variety of settings in this country and abroad and president of the World Affairs Council of Northern California from 1991 through January 1998, is the first Diplomat in Residence at San Francisco State University.
Fischer, who joined the Foreign Service in 1961, was appointed ambassador to the Seychelles, an island nation off the coast of East Africa, in 1985. That same year he was also named the director for East Africa in the State Department with responsibility for thirteen countries in the region. In that capacity he dealt with issues ranging from the famines in Ethiopia to civil wars raging in Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan He has served in numerous diplomatic positions in many other countries, is expert in arms control negotiations, and is currently co-host of Bay TV's "Our World This Week," the only weekly television program in the region devoted to foreign affairs.
In announcing the appointment, SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan noted that the creation of the Diplomat in Residence position Fischer will fill is another important component in the continued internationalization of the campus, and described Fischer as "ideal" for the post.
"David Fischer has an extraordinary history of work and a great wealth of personal experience from his more than 30 years in the Foreign Service," Corrigan said. "His presence on our campus as both a teacher and community resource is very good news for us and our students. He fully understands how the world has indeed become a global village and will be a guide and mentor to the campus community members who are studying and working in this area."
The Diplomat in Residence position is made possible by support from the Richard Goldman Fund. "This University is once again indebted to Richard Goldman for his generosity and interest in creating a better understanding of the world in which we live," Corrigan said.
Fischer's diplomatic experience is diverse and varied, with years of service in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Tanzania, and the Republic of the Seychelles. During his career he became a specialist on arms control issues, serving as a member of the first and second Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) delegations. On assignments in Washington he worked in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), as well as the State Department Bureau of Political-Military affairs charged with oversight fo r U.S. arms control talks with the then-Soviet Union.
A following assignment brought Fischer to Germany in 1987 as Consul-General in Munich where his responsibilities included issues ranging from privatization of the post and telegraph monopoly to the withdrawal of 150,000 troops from southern Germany. He retired from the Foreign Service in 1991 to become president of the World Affairs Council of Northern California based in San Francisco, which, under his leadership until early this year, grew to more than 11,000 members and became widely recognized as one of the largest, most influential foreign affairs organizations in the United States.
Drawn to the energy and diversity of San Francisco State's campus community, Fischer first taught an undergraduate course at SFSU during spring 1998 titled "Diplomatic Dialog" that examined the forces at work in making foreign policy choices. This fall, as the University's first Diplomat in Residence, he will teach a graduate seminar in international relations titled "U.S. Foreign Policy from 1945 to the Present" in which students will get involved in simulated decision making about foreign policy issu es and will explore the moral dilemmas inherent in making those decisions.
Fischer earned his BA degree in history from Brown University and attended Harvard Law School before joining the Foreign Service. As an undergraduate he studied abroad in Vienna for a year, a period that changed his perspective and his life. It was the early 1960s, JFK was president, there was a renewed interest in foreign affairs, and the life of a diplomat seemed like "the ideal career," he says.
Fischer spoke seven languages during his tenure in the Foreign Service, and became expert at developing diplomatic negotiation skills. Most of his career was devoted to arms control, the issue which dominated U.S.-Soviet relations. He was influential in orchestrating Mikhail Gorbachev's first visit to the U.S., and San Francisco, in 1991.
"Part of my role as Diplomat in Residence will be to help people understand SFSU's role in the global village," Fischer says. "The University is a tremendous resource with many international ties, many of them related to its student body, who come from all corners of the globe. I also plan to work to make the University's presence known in the arena of international business, to encourage students to study and travel abroad, and to bring international leaders to the campus."
When asked for quick responses about some current U.S. foreign policy-related issues, Fischer had these reactions: China will definitely continue to be the biggest foreign affairs focus for this country in the coming years as the U.S. comes to terms with the potential political and economic challenges it poses; Clinton's recent trip to China was an unqualified success; James Hormel is well qualified to become ambassador to Luxembourg and that blocking his appointment is just political posturing.
San Francisco State University is a highly diverse community of 27,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff. It is one of the largest campuses of the nationally recognized 23-campus California State University (CSU) system. Founded in 1899, the University is approaching its 100th year of service to San Francisco, the Bay Area, California, and beyond.
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