Philip Zelikow

White Burkett Miller Professor of History and J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance

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 and J. Wilson Newman Professor of Governance 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

Philip Zelikow discusses The Road Less Traveled: The Secret Battle to End the Great War, 1916 – 1917. The conversation explores might have happened had the peace talks succeeded? Why has this story never been told?
Philip Zelikow Texas National Security Review podcast
Philip Zelikow's The Road Less Traveled, Niall Ferguson writes in his Times Literary Supplement review, is a "masterpiece of diplomatic history, a sub-field now largely extinct at American universities."
Philip Zelikow Times Literary Supplement
A review of Philip Zelikow's book, "The Road Less Traveled: The Secret Battle to End the Great War," appears in Foreign Policy, offering insights into the difficulty of making peace.
Philip Zelikow Foreign Policy
During a pivotal few months in the middle of the First World War, all sides—Germany, Britain, and America—believed the war could be concluded. Peace at the end of 1916 would have saved millions of lives and changed the course of history utterly.
Philip Zelikow Military Times
On August 18, the chancellor of Imperial Germany sent a momentous and secret cable to his able ambassador in Washington. He and his Kaiser were also desperate to end the war and ready for compromise, including the restoration of Belgium.
History News Network
In The Road Less Traveled, Zelikow brilliantly tells the diplomatic story of what he calls “the lost peace” of August 1916–January 1917. During that seven-month time period, he writes, “[t]he possibilities for peace were tantalizingly close.”
Philip Zelikow New York Journal of Books