We mourn the passing of Ambassador Ronald E. Woods, Affiliate Professor and Advisory Board Member at the Jackson School, a career diplomat and senior-level U.S. government representative. Ambassador Woods passed away on Friday, April 15.
“There are many graduates of the Jackson School who are representing the United States around the world whose interest in the Foreign Service was first kindled by Ron. We are fortunate for having known him and for benefiting from his immense knowledge and his extraordinary generosity,” said Director of the Jackson School of International Studies Reşat Kasaba.
Born and raised in Michigan, Woods came to Seattle and the University of Washington in 1992 while on sabbatical from the U.S. government. He first taught at UW from 1992-1993 as part of the University’s Diplomat-in-Residence program, teaching and mentoring students at the Jackson School and what was then called the Graduate School of Public Affairs, now known as The Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.
He continued his affiliation with the Jackson School for the next 22 years as a professor and as a member of its Advisory Board.
During his time as a Diplomat-in-Residence and following as an affiliate professor, Woods guided and advised many students to careers in the Foreign Service and beyond.
Woods launched a course called “American Foreign Policy” in 1992. This was made possible through a grant from the Henry M. Jackson Foundation.
“We were very glad to support Ron’s role at the Jackson school and to have someone of that caliber and competency providing that real world perspective to the students,” said Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. “We wanted to make sure that there was someone teaching American foreign policy at the school so Ron fit the bill perfectly.”
“Ron was always accessible to students to discuss the practicalities of serving in the State Department as well as offering regular courses and senior seminars. Most of all, he was a wonderful human being,” added UW Professor Emeritus of History Jere L. Bacharach, who served as director of the Jackson School at the time.
Ambassador Woods’s role as practitioner deepened the partnership between the Jackson School and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation. Today, “American Foreign Policy” continues to be offered as a permanent part of the curriculum thanks to the continued support of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and is one of the School’s most popular courses.
Ambassador Woods’ main areas of expertise and focus were Europe and Atlantic policy. As a Foreign Service Officer for 30 years and with a rank of Minister, his diplomatic tours covered the world: Brussels, Oslo, London, Madrid, Strasbourg, Paris, Rome and Cairo.
His assignment as deputy ambassador in London, which he held immediately prior to joining the UW, included overusing 25 government agencies, a staff of 800 and a $35 million budget.
Along with representing the U.S. government in foreign locations, Woods also worked in Washington, D.C., where he was director of staff and a senior staff member for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. He also worked for the U.S. Senate, as Special Assistant to Deputy Secretary of State George Ball, as spokesperson for the SALT II Treaty, and as Deputy Director for North European Affairs.
Woods was a well-known and much admired figure among the members of Seattle’s globally minded community. In addition to participating in discussions and giving lectures and interviews, Ambassador Woods also headed the Seattle chapter of the World Affairs Council.
He spoke fluent French, Spanish and Italian, and was a graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
A memorial service and celebration of Ron’s life will be held on Friday, May 20th, 11:00 am at Epiphany Parish of Seattle, 1805 38th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122.
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