Philip Zelikow

White Burkett Miller Professor of History

Fast Facts

  • Former Miller Center director
  • Executive Director of 9/11 Commission
  • Elected member, American Academy of Diplomacy
  • Expertise in American foreign policy, military history, European military history, Cuban missile crisis

Areas Of Expertise

  • Foreign Affairs
  • American Defense and Security
  • War and Terrorism
  • Domestic Affairs
  • Governance
  • Congress
  • Leadership
  • Politics
  • The Presidency

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia, where he has also served as dean of the Graduate School and director of the Miller Center. His scholarly work has focused on critical episodes in American and world history. 

He was a trial and appellate lawyer and then a career diplomat before taking academic positions at Harvard, then Virginia. Before and during his academic career, he has served at all levels of American government. His federal service during five administrations has included positions in the White House, State Department, and the Pentagon. His last full-time government position was as the counselor of the Department of State, a deputy to Secretary Condoleezza Rice. 

He directed a small and short-lived federal agency, the 9/11 Commission. He also directed an earlier bipartisan commission on election reform, chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford, that led to successful passage of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. More recently he was managing director of “Rework America,” a landmark project on American economic opportunity in the digital age, organized by the Markle Foundation. 

He is one of the few individuals ever to serve on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Boards for presidents of both parties, in the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He has also been a member of the Defense Policy Board for Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and a member of the board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2020, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Philip Zelikow News Feed

Mr. Biden has ordered an intelligence review, due this summer, but that’s hardly enough, and he should actively support the creation of an independent commission that would examine virus origins and the nation’s response to the crisis. Congress ought to join in. Many national and global calamities were later subject to bipartisan investigation: Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War, the John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations, 9/11. A great start already exists with the Covid Commission Planning Group led by Philip Zelikow, but it needs a sense that the White House, Congress and other national leaders will welcome the probe and assist with a full-blown independent investigation.
Philip Zelikow The Washington Post
Could World War I have been ended in December 1916 with a negotiated peace, thus sparing millions of lives on both sides? This starting proposition—an end to the war two full years before November 11, 1918—is explored in Philip Zelikow’s new book, The Road Less Traveled. It is a debatable assertion rejected by most historians. Zelikow, however, is used to controversy. A former U.S. State Department official, he served as the executive director of the national 9/11 Commission and has co-authored two books on the Cold War with Condoleezza Rice.
Philip Zelikow History News Network
As calls mount for a national Covid Commission, 9/11 Commission Director Philip Zelikow is leading UVA's Covid Commission Planning Group to pave the way.
Philip Zelikow UVA Today
Philip Zelikow discusses the privately-funded Covid Commission Planning Group. Zelikow, who directed the 9/11 Commission, says the group has identified more than 40 lines of inquiry.
Philip Zelikow The Associated Press
A New York Times opinion piece features Philip Zelikow, who directed the 9/11 Commission, discussing the value of a nonpartisan Covid Commission to study the pandemic.
Philip Zelikow The New York Times
An Op Ed in the Star Tribune discusses the need for a national Covid Commission, Philip Zelikow's work through the Covid Commission Planning Group, and cites his valuable experience directing the 9/11 Commission.
Philip Zelikow Star Tribune