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George Rupp to Become President of International Rescue Committee This Summer

George Rupp

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has chosen George Rupp to succeed Reynold Levy as its president this summer.

Prior to becoming Columbia's president in 1993, Rupp served as president of Rice University in Houston and dean of the Harvard Divinity School. On March 3, 2001, he advised Columbia's board of trustees that he would step down on June 30, 2002, after nine years in office.

The IRC, based in New York, is one of the world's leading refugee relief agencies, with extensive aid operations in Afghanistan, Congo and some 30 other countries. The IRC also resettles refugees in the United States through a network of offices in 20 cities around the nation.

In comments to the agency board and staff, Winston Lord and James C. Strickler, the IRC board's co-chairmen, said the board's executive committee and search committee were deeply impressed by Rupp's record of achievement in diverse environments, leadership ability, humanitarian instincts and international outlook.

"The IRC is going from strength to strength," they stated. "We and the refugee cause are fortunate to welcome a leader with George Rupp's vision, skills and dedication to humanitarian causes. We are confident that he will build on the strong gains in programming, fundraising and managerial excellence that have been achieved over the last five years under the outstanding leadership of Reynold Levy." During Levy's tenure, they noted, the IRC's budget doubled, it raised its profile domestically and internationally, and it responded with distinction to major refugee emergencies in Kosovo, East Timor and Afghanistan. In addition, a $60 million five-year IRC endowment campaign that was launched in November 2000 is already nearing the $40 million level.

"I am excited to be joining the International Rescue Committee," Rupp said. "It is an honor to participate in continuing the IRC's proud tradition of providing aid for refugees and other victims of persecution and conflict. I look forward to working with my new colleagues in this urgent cause."

At Columbia, Rupp has focused on enhancing undergraduate education, on strengthening the relationship of the campus to surrounding communities and New York City as a whole, and on increasing the international orientation of the University. At the same time, he completed a financial restructuring, with the result that each of the annual budgets he has submitted has been in balance. Under his leadership the University has also achieved record fundraising each year and completed a $2.84 billion fundraising campaign.

During the eight years of his presidency at Rice University, applications for admission almost tripled, federal research support more than doubled, and the value of the Rice endowment increased by more than $500 million to $1.25 billion.

Rupp is a New Jersey native. He has studied and conducted research for extended periods in both Europe and Asia. He was awarded an A.B. from Princeton University in 1964, a B.D. from Yale Divinity School in 1967 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1972. Throughout his career, he has taught and written. He is the author of four books and numerous articles on philosophy, religion and related subjects.

He and his wife, Nancy, are the parents of two adult daughters.

Levy was appointed president of the IRC in May 1997. Earlier in his career, he spent seven years as executive director of the 92nd Street Y in New York and later became the first president of the AT&T Foundation, created upon the breakup of the Bell System. When he left AT&T in 1996, he was managing director of international public affairs. He was teaching and writing a book on philanthropy in 1997 when he was recruited by the IRC. He is currently a senior lecturer at the Harvard Business School.

Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the International Rescue Committee is among the world's largest nonsectarian nonprofit agencies providing global emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection and resettlement services for refugees, displaced persons and victims of oppression and violent conflict. The IRC is committed to freedom, human dignity and self-reliance. The organization is currently assisting refugees in some 30 countries and operates a network of resettlement offices in more than 20 cities in the United States.

Published: Jan 30, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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