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
  • Former State Department Counselor
  • 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.

Philip Zelikow News Feed

The passing of Brent Scowcroft is an opportunity for a bit of reflection about the U.S. foreign policy elite and its attitude toward American military intervention in world affairs.
War on the Rocks
Four years after 50 of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials warned that Donald J. Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history,” they are back with a new letter, declaring his presidency worse than they had imagined and urging voters to support former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Philip Zelikow The New York Times
“In America, in China, all through the world, people are questioning their systems of government ad in the midst of an economic crisis,” Zelikow said. “And meanwhile, we have rising military tensions, all the more reason to think about statecraft.”
Philip Zelikow The Daily Progress
The European Parliament and President Putin are distorting the lessons of World War II. But their debate spotlights questions about the future of world order in the 2020s.
The American Interest
Like many others, I was a child of U.S. foreign policy. During the Second World War my mother, while a teenager, found work as a civilian secretary for the Army to help support her invalid father. After the war, once she turned 21, the Army sent her to work at bases in occupied Japan and Okinawa. Returning to the West Coast, she met and married a carrier pilot who flew F9Fs off the USS Essex during the Korean War. He went into the reserves after that war and they moved to Texas. They then both met other people, divorced, and remarried, but Texas is where I stayed, taking the last name of my adoptive father.
Philip Zelikow H-Diplo
In recent years, a number of countries—China and Russia, in particular—have found ways to take the kind of corruption that was previously a mere feature of their own political systems and transform it into a weapon on the global stage.
Philip Zelikow, Eric Edelman, Kristofer Harrison, and Celeste Ward Gventer Foreign Affairs