Dr George Rupp

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A distinguished scholar and educational leader, George Rupp has dedicated his career to international development and higher education as president of the International Rescue Committee, Columbia University and Rice University. On 13 April 2015, he became Chair of the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Board of Governors.

George was President of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for 11 years, from 2002-2013, leading the organization on its mission to improve the lives of refugees uprooted by war and conflict in some of the most troubled parts of the world.  

Under his presidency, the IRC responded to a wide range of humanitarian crises caused by conflict and natural disaster: civil wars in Syria and Iraq; the conflict in Darfur; ongoing strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo; the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar; and earthquakes in Pakistan and Haiti.

In the period, the IRC also carried out major development and assistance programs in such countries as Afghanistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

Prior to his tenure at the IRC, George was President of Columbia University, where he deepened the university’s commitment to international education and exchange. He strengthened undergraduate education, deepened the relationship of the campus to its surrounding communities, and oversaw the financial restructuring of the university. He held the post from 1993-2002. 

He came to Columbia from Rice University, which under his presidency enjoyed eight years (1985-1993) of rapid growth in applications and research funding.

George is a widely experienced board member, and is a longstanding member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of International Education, whose mission is to advance international education worldwide. He has also served on boards for the Committee for Economic Development and the Council on Foreign Relations. He chaired the Association of American Universities.

The author of numerous articles and six books, including Beyond Individualism: The Challenge of Inclusive Communities, published in 2015. Based on experience gained in countries where the IRC operates, this book makes the case for inclusion that respects diverse perspectives and convictions.

George earned bachelor’s degrees from Princeton and Yale and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He served on the faculty at the University of Redlands, Harvard, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He has studied and conducted research in both Germany and Sri Lanka.