Incoming Humphrey School dean joins Jill Biden on Africa trip

WASHINGTON — According to the White House Press Office, Eric Schwartz, an Assistant Secretary of State and future dean of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has joined Vice President Joe Biden’s wife on a humanitarian trip to Africa.

Here’s the note from the White House this morning: “Dr. Jill Biden has arrived in Kenya with Senator Bill Frist, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz, and Special Assistant to the President Gayle Smith. Dr. Biden’s trip will underscore the United States’ commitment to working with the governments and people of the region, and the international community, to assist the people of the Horn of Africa during this urgent time of need, and to investing in long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity in the region.”

Somalia is in the midst of the worst drought to hit the region in 60 years and the United Nations has said famine affects more than five regions in the country. More than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died over the last 90 days, according to U.S. estimates, and the U.N. says more than 640,000 are malnourished.

The Associated Press reports that the United States is preparing a $100 million aid package for the region, and is set to announce it soon.

Biden will visit the Dadaab Refuge Complex in Kenya as well as the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute. She’s also scheduled to meet with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Schwartz, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, was named the new dean of the U’s Humphrey School in June and will start there in October. Schwartz has traveled throughout the world as an assistant secretary of state since 2009, spending time on nearly every continent.

Devin Henry can be reached at

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Richard Faust on 08/09/2011 - 02:55 am.

    Oromo, Eritrean, and Somali residents of the Land of 10,000 Lakes will be very interested to discover that the incoming Dean of the Humphrey Institute will be traveling with Gayle Smith, who has a very controversial “history” with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. That is all I will say for now, except to advise the MinnPost to investigate the ties between Smith and Zenawi. This is not a safari to the Horn of Africa for a mere photo-op.

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