Campus & Community

Kennedy School Professor Merilee Grindle named director of Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

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Merilee S. Grindle, the Edward S. Mason Professor of International Development at the Kennedy School of Government, has been appointed the new director of Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies to begin on July 1, 2006.

“This is a key appointment for the University and for the David Rockefeller Center. Merilee Grindle is a proven leader who will build bridges across Harvard and from Harvard to Latin America. I could not be more delighted with this appointment,” said Provost Steven E. Hyman.

Grindle is a specialist on the comparative analysis of policymaking, implementation, and public management in developing countries, with a special focus on Latin America. She has held leadership positions at the David Rockefeller Center since its founding in 1994, serving as both a member of the center’s faculty Executive Committee and as chair of its Research Committee. Recently, she served on the Executive Council of the Latin American Studies Association.

“John Coatsworth has been an extraordinary leader of the Rockefeller Center. During his 12 years there, he has given the center great vitality, initiating new programs, extending its reach in Latin America, and creating new opportunities for our students to study there and for Latin American students to come to Harvard. I am very grateful to him for his hard work,” said William C. Kirby, Edith and Benjamin Geisinger Professor of History and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “And, I cannot think of a better choice to succeed Professor Coatsworth than Merilee Grindle. Her research and analysis of public policy and management in Latin America have brought her accolades not only from her colleagues and students, but from world leaders as well. She is ideally suited for the position, and will undoubtedly take the center to new heights.”

“I cannot imagine a more inspired and inspiring choice. Merilee Grindle is an outstanding scholar and will be a terrific leader for the center,” said John Coatsworth, who will step down after 12 years as director at the end of June.

A political scientist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Grindle has trained a whole generation of senior policy-makers throughout the world as part of her work at the Kennedy School of Government.

“Merilee Grindle is a terrific choice for director of the Rockefeller Center,” said David Elwood, Scott M. Black Professor of Political Economy and dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. “Her work on policymaking and public management in Latin America and other developing countries has influenced the thinking of scholars and policy-makers alike. She will bring tremendous insight and committed leadership to the center.”

“Merilee Grindle is an outstanding choice as a leader for the David Rockefeller Center,” said Eduardo Rodriguez, a 1988 Kennedy School of Government M.P.A. graduate and until recently president of Bolivia. “I know firsthand that her extensive writings on public policy and effective teaching have made great contributions towards Latin America’s development. Her work in Bolivia to develop and expand public policy capacity and leadership is enormously appreciated.”

Grindle is the author of “Searching for Rural Development: Labor Migration and Employment in Mexico” (Cornell, 1988); “Bureaucrats, Politicians, and Peasants in Mexico: A Case Study in Public Policy” (University of California, 1977); “State and Countryside: Development Policy and Agrarian Politics in Latin America” (Johns Hopkins, 1986); “Challenging the State: Crisis and Innovation in Latin America and Africa” (Cambridge, 1996); “Audacious Reforms: Institutional Invention and Democracy in Latin America” (Johns Hopkins, 2000); “Despite the Odds: The Contentious Politics of Education Reform” (Princeton, 2004), and numerous articles about policy management. Her latest book, “Going Local: Decentralization, Democratization, and the Promise of Good Governance,” which focuses on local government performance in Mexico, will be published later this year.

Grindle’s work also includes influential edited volumes on “Proclaiming Revolution: Bolivia in Comparative Perspective” (Harvard, 2003); “Politics and Policy Implementation in the Third World” (Princeton, 1980); and “Getting Good Government: Capacity Building in the Public Sectors of Developing Countries” (Harvard, 1997). She is co-author, with John Thomas, of “Public Choices and Policy Change” (Johns Hopkins, 1991), which won an award as the best book in public policy in 1991. She was the 1991 recipient of the Manuel C. Carballo Award for Excellence in Teaching.