2023 Class Day Speaker Announced

Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch has announced the featured speaker for the 2023 Columbia University School of General Studies (GS) Class Day ceremony, which will be held on Monday, May 15 at 7:45 a.m. This year, the keynote speaker is Keren Yarhi-Milo ’03GS. 

April 13, 2023

This year’s GS Class Day keynote speaker is Keren Yarhi-Milo ’03GS, Dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Relations. An expert in international security, crisis decision making, and political psychology, Yarhi-Milo is also an award-winning scholar with an extensive record of leadership and service at SIPA and Columbia.

In 2022, Yarhi-Milo was recognized by the International Studies Association (ISA) with the Emerging Scholar Award for her significant contribution to the field of security studies, and her most recent book, Who Fights for Reputation: The Psychology of Leaders in International Conflict, was recognized by the American Political Science Association as best book in foreign policy and by the ISA as outstanding book in foreign policy. Her previous book, Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations, received the Mershon Center for International Security’s Furniss Award, given annually to an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the study of national and international security, and was also co-winner of the ISA’s biennial book award in diplomatic studies.

Yarhi-Milo is a series editor of Princeton Studies in International History and Politics from Princeton University Press. She has also published extensively in academic journals, receiving honors from the American Political Science Association (APSA), the International Studies Association, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution. In 2010, her doctoral dissertation earned APSA’s Kenneth Waltz Award as best in the field of international security and arms control.

Yarhi-Milo joined the Columbia faculty in 2019 after a decade at Princeton University. Before becoming dean of SIPA in July 2022, she served for two years as director of SIPA’s Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies and Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies. In her role as director of the Institute, Yarhi-Milo launched the Emerging Voices in National Security and Intelligence program to attract and support students from underrepresented backgrounds interested in pursuing careers in those fields. She also worked closely with the Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration, hosting jointly-led discussions and panels on the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the current war in Ukraine.

In January, Yarhi-Milo announced the news that Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton would be joining SIPA as a professor of practice with a joint appointment as a presidential fellow at Columbia World Projects. This fall, the two will co-teach “Inside the Situation Room,” a course designed to teach students to analyze and understand the many facets of foreign policy decision-making, to a classroom made up of both SIPA students and Columbia undergraduates.  

Beyond her numerous and prestigious academic achievements and recognitions, she and her husband Ariel Milo ’03GS have been loyal supporters of GS students in the years since their graduation. While only representing a few inspiring examples among many, they have truly helped lead the way in supporting the School, with Ariel serving as a member of the GS Board of Visitors and Keren volunteering as the keynote speaker of GS’s inaugural Dean’s Women Leaders Roundtable for Women Veterans series. Since 2018, this incredible initiative, co-sponsored by the Columbia Milvets student group, has provided an opportunity for numerous inspiring leaders from across the University to connect with Columbia’s amazing veteran community.

Yarhi-Milo grew up in Israel, where she served as an intelligence officer while completing mandatory military service. She previously worked with several NGOs promoting peace in the Middle East, including the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. Yarhi-Milo earned her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA, summa cum laude, from the Columbia University School of General Studies. She currently lives on the Upper West Side in Manhattan with her husband and two sons.

About Columbia University School of General Studies
The Columbia University School of General Studies (GS), founded in 1947, is the premier liberal arts college in the United States for nontraditional students seeking a traditional undergraduate Ivy League education. GS students take the same courses, study with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all undergraduates at Columbia University.