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

In Suez Deconstructed, Philip Zelikow, a historian at the University of Virginia and former counselor of the Department of State, argues that students of strategy have as much to learn from Suez as its much-studied cousins. In making this case, Zelikow is joined by Ernest May, who was a venerated Harvard historian, and the Harvard Suez Team, a group of six scholars recruited to conduct research for the project. The authors began their work in the 1990s, but were interrupted, among other things, by Zelikow’s service in government and May’s death in 2009. Zelikow has returned to finish the book at an auspicious moment for examining the kind of war that Suez represents — a multi-power crisis, in which states of every size and strength play major roles.
Philip Zelikow War on the Rocks
“The first impression of what the report said was the Barr letter,” Mr. Zelikow said, “and then a further news conference today. That has allowed the attorney general to shape the initial impressions and coverage surrounding this report for a month.”

Philip Zelikow The New York Times
Our government and citizens are certainly entitled to understand, as best they can, the counterintelligence story: how the Russian government carried out a series of covert operations to intervene in the election of a U.S. president, and how Americans may have encouraged or worked with the foreign agents.
“What Merkel is viscerally remembering was the American-European partnership at its height, in a period of emergency and world crisis,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who advised Mr. Bush on German reunification and the breakup of the Soviet Union. “Now here were are, as the system these leaders created is drifting into great jeopardy.”
Philip Zelikow The New York Times
Former George H.W. Bush advisor and Miller Center scholar Philip Zelikow shares his recollections with UVA Today.
Caroline Newman UVA Today
George Herbert Walker Bush died Friday at the age of 94 at his home in Houston. The 41st President served from 1989 to 1993, before losing his bid for a second term. The Takeaway hears from two people with intimate knowledge of the president's life and legacy: Timothy Naftali, George H.W. Bush biographer and associate clinical professor of history and of public service at NYU, and Philip Zelikow, history professor at the University of Virginia who served on the staff of the National Security Council under President George H.W. Bush.
Philip Zelikow WNYC The Takeaway