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Robert Orr (Submitted photo)

UN official named dean at UM public policy school

A high-ranking United Nations official has been appointed dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Robert Orr comes to the state’s flagship university after 10 years as the assistant secretary-general for policy planning at the UN. He also has experience in academia, most recently as executive director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, from 2003 to 2004.

“There has never been a greater need for good public policy-making than there is today — globally, nationally and locally,” Orr said in a statement. “I am honored to join colleagues at a world class institution to develop new generations of scholars and practitioners in the art of making public policy.”

Officials at the school, which provides graduate education in public policy and management, began their search for a new dean in January. Orr succeeds Donald F. Kettl, who served as dean since 2009.

Kettl, who is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, returned to the faculty this year.

In announcing Orr’s appointment on Tuesday, university officials praised his diverse resume and accomplishments, particularly those involving multi-stakeholder partnerships and large-scale resource mobilization.

While at the UN, Orr played a major role in designing and implementing the UN global Counter Terrorism Centre, the UN Peacebuilding Commission and the UN Human Rights Council.

He also launched a number of initiatives involving sustainable energy, women’s and children’s health and food security, university officials said.

“Dr. Orr will be a visionary and dynamic leader for the School of Public Policy,” Mary Ann Rankin, the university’s senior vice president and provost, said in a statement.

“His expertise in the critical issues of climate change and environmental quality and sustainability, coupled with his interests in counterterrorism, peace building and cybersecurity, will make him an extraordinary asset to the University of Maryland community.”

Orr received bachelor’s degrees in English and history from the University of California, Los Angeles. He then received a master of public administration and a doctorate in international relations from Princeton University.

He is also fluent in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the White House Fellows Association.