FSI receives $5 million from Stanton Foundation for nuclear security professor at CISAC


nuclear detonation simulation
U.S. soldiers sponge off their protective suits after a simulated nuclear detonation scenario at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana.
Photo credit: 
U.S. Department of Defense

In a move bolstering Stanford’s group of global security experts, the Stanton Foundation has made a gift of $5 million to the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) establishing a professorship in nuclear security. The professorship, which will be housed at the Institute’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), is the foundation’s second such gift within a year.

“Nuclear security continues to be one of the most critical issues facing our world,” said FSI Director Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar.  “Both the promise and perils of nuclear technology must be managed with extreme care in the decades ahead, a task that will call for insights from different disciplines and perspectives across CISAC and the university."

The endowed chair, named “The Stanton Foundation Professorship in Nuclear Security,” will allow Stanford to recruit an internationally recognized scholar for an appointment at FSI and one of the university’s seven schools.

“We have an invitation to think boldly and creatively about national security from an interdisciplinary approach, and that’s what makes this gift so exciting,” said Amy Zegart, co-director of CISAC. “We can broaden our reach into issues in a dynamic international security environment while keeping a core focus on  nuclear security.”

Today’s threats are changing faster and with greater uncertainty than ever before, and CISAC needs to stay on top of – and in front of – the security issues facing our nation, Zegart said.

From insurgencies and cyber threats to biological weapons, “the world is now more interconnected and the threats are more interconnected compared to the end of the Cold War,” she said. “We need a doubling down of this expertise and a broadening of the research to address emerging threats.”

Ongoing support from Stanton reinforces CISAC’s longstanding mission to build a safer world, including through a major continuing focus on understanding the threats and challenges associated with nuclear security. CISAC’s longstanding efforts on nuclear security and arms control spans decades and include interdisciplinary research, policy outreach, and training the next generation of specialists in the field. The Stanton Foundation established its first endowed chair at CISAC in 2013 with a $5 million gift and also funds CISAC’s Stanton Nuclear Security Fellowships for pre- and post-doctoral students and junior faculty who are studying policy-relevant issues related to nuclear security.

Former CBS president Frank Stanton, who established the foundation, became actively engaged in international security issues in 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed him to a committee to develop the first comprehensive plan for the nation’s survival following a nuclear attack. His connection to Stanford began when he served as a founding member and chair of Stanford’s Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in 1953 and a university trustee from 1953 to 1971.

“The Stanton Foundation recognizes that there needs to be a center of excellence in nuclear security outside of the Washington-Boston corridor, and Stanford is that place,” Zegart said.

FSI faculty members at CISAC are prominent players in international security and arms control policy and research: Scott Sagan, a leading scholar of nuclear nonproliferation and weapons of mass destruction; Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Lab and one of the world’s leading experts on plutonium; John Lewis, a veteran expert on U.S.-China relations; and former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, to name a few. Rodney Ewing, one of the nation’s leading experts on nuclear materials, joined Stanford earlier this year after he was appointed the inaugural Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security Studies. Ewing was named by President Barack Obama in 2012 as chair of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

CISAC and FSI have traditionally drawn faculty from the fields of science and social sciences – both essential components of global security.

CISAC and FSI will seek to appoint a professor who exhibits first-class scholarship, high-impact policy experience and teaching skills to help train the next generation of security specialists, Zegart said.

May Wong is a freelance writer.