Philip Zelikow

Philip Zelikow

White Burkett Miller Professor, Emeritus

Nau 421
Office Hours: On Leave

Field & Specialties

Modern world
20th century US
American foreign policy
American military history


Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History.  He has also served at all levels of American government, including as an elected member of a town school board.  He began his professional career as a trial and appellate lawyer in Texas, including work for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  After returning to graduate school and then teaching for the Navy, he joined the Foreign Service and served as a career diplomat, posted overseas and in Washington, including service on the NSC staff for President George H.W. Bush.  His Ph.D. is from Tufts University's Fletcher School.  

Since leaving regular government service in 1991 he has taught and directed research programs at Harvard University and at the University of Virginia.  At Virginia he directed the Miller Center of Public Affairs from 1998 to 2005.  Later, he was the dean in charge of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (2011-14).

His scholarship focuses on critical episodes in American and world history.  His books include The Road Less Traveled: The Secret Battle to End the Great War, 1916-1917 (PublicAffairs, 2021); To Build a Better World: Choices to End the Cold War and Create a Global Commonwealth (Twelve, 2019, with Condoleezza Rice); Suez Deconstructed: An Interactive Study of Crisis, War, and Peacemaking (Brookings, 2018); America's Moment: Creating Opportunity in the Connected Age (Norton, 2015, drafted on behalf of the Markle Foundation group, "Rework America"); Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Longman, rev. ed., 1999, with Graham Allison); The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Norton ed., 2001, with Ernest May); and Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (Harvard UP, 1995, with Condoleezza Rice).

While in academia he has remained engaged with public service.  While at the Miller Center, he directed the 2001 commission on national election reform, chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford. This work led directly to congressional passage of the bipartisan Help America Vote Act of 2002.  He later took two public service leaves to return to full-time government service.  The first of these leaves was in 2003-04, to direct the 9/11 Commission.  The Commission's landmark report was published in 2004.  The second leave was in 2005-07 to serve as Counselor of the Department of State, a deputy to Secretary Rice.  He is currently leading the privately-sponsored Covid Commission Planning Group (2021).

He has also been a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board both for President Bush (2001-03) and for President Obama (2011-13), one of few individuals to serve on this board in administrations of both parties.  He was a member of the Defense Policy Board (2015-17).  He also advised the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s program in global development (2007-12).