Center for Strategic and International Studies, timeline

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This timeline records key events in the history of the CSIS, in particular from the period of its creation until it was removed from campus at Georgetown University in 1986.


Georgetown University News Service, June 1962


  • The announcement of the establishment of The Centre for Strategic (and International) Studies was made by Reverend E.B Bunn, President of Georgetown University on June 4 1962. Its stated aim was 'to coordinate and conduct studies related to the strategies by which free societies can utilise their total strength to preserve and further develop the values underlying Western civilisation.'[1]
  • Donald Sheehan of the University of Pennsylvania writes to Reverend Bunn on the 23 June 1962, expressing that he was 'impressed with the need for such an independent objective agency' and that 'a university provides an ideal setting for such an organisation as you have envisioned'.[2]



Courier article on the CSIS, Volume XI, No.5, February 1963
  • CSIS' contribution to coordinating research and facilitating meetings between strategists and other key political actors receives press attention. [3]


Letter from Arleigh Burke regarding CSIS move, Feb 5 1964


  • Arleigh Burke writes to Father Campbell on 5 February 1964 regarding CSIS' move of headquarters to 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, away from Georgetown University Campus. [4]


  • Response to Admiral Burke from Father Campbell regarding constitutional restructuring of CSIS and the Board of Director's approval on 11 September.[5]



  • Letter from Admiral Burke dated 22 April 1966, regarding a grant from the Scaife Family Foundation to help retain Professors Garbuny and Sharabi from Georgetown.[6]


  • Admiral Burke writes to the CEO of the Automobile Manufacturers Association on 13 September 1966, asking that he sit as a member of the Executive Board.[7]


  • Student newspaper the HOYA outlining the achievements and publications of the Centre between 1962-1966 and its prominent role in US strategy formation. [8]
The Hoya article on CSIS, December 1966



  • Stirrings of student activism at Georgetown: the student populous are 'bored, respectful, disappointed and mannerly'. There are small pockets of tension emerging such as Georgetown University Community Action Program or student paper the Hoya's criticism of Father Campbell for the lack of administrative coordination between staff and students.[9]


  • The Free University catalogue is published on 1 October by Georgetown University Students, modelled on the 40 or so other versions that had sprouted up on campuses around the country. The opening saw some 500 students join up to over 50 courses, taught by professors in their spare time and free of tuition fees.[10]


'A Dialogue of the Decision Makers', article on CSIS May 1968


  • The Research Council is created under the chairmanship of Professor Mosely to meet for the first time on 1 November 1968.[11]


  • Praise given to CSIS and it's use to the policy-practitioner in Washington, particularly to its work regarding the emerging Arab-Israeli conflict and an article in Georgetown's Alumni magazine quotes Admiral Burke as saying 'policy goes wrong becuase the alternatives are not understood at the time a decision is taken.'[12]


  • Letter from Arleigh Burke to Father Campbell from 4 December 1968 regarding the centre's name change from the Centre for Strategic Studies to the 'Centre for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS). Father Campbell felt it important that the centre emphasise its international focus alongside that of strategy.


Statement on CSIS by Father Henle, July 1969


  • Statement made by father Henle regarding questions of CSIS' research agenda and funding sources, Henle reaffirms support for the Centre.


  • Notification of CSIS constitutional changes to President Henle on 4 August outlining the name change to 'Centre for Strategic and International Studies', the change of directorship to 'Chairman' to imply administrative role and central role of the Research Council in directing research,which replaced the Research Committee.


Newsletter of April 1970 confirming new appointments


  • Newsletter of April 1970, confirming David Abshire's appointment by President Nixon to 'Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations'. The role was designed to use Abshire's expertise to focus on the growing role of Congress in the formation of foreign policy.
  • The newsletter also confirms the replacement of Abshire by Ambassador John Steeves as Executive Director of CSIS.


Henle to Burke regarding Chair of Int Affairs, February 1971


  • President of Georgetown Roger Henle writes to Admiral Burke on 25 February regarding a meeting with Ambassador Spruille Braden and the gifting of a Chair of International Affairs to the university.



  • Article in Georgetown Today, denoting CSIS' ability to shift British policy in the Gulf as well as US policy with Panama and the USSR. While revered internationally, among students the centre 'remains and enigma', and is charged by leftists (Students for Democratic Society for example) as being a front for the CIA and a conservative or militaristic disposition. Often referred to as the 'Cold War think tank' due to its ideological leaning.
'Intellectual Brokerage House' - Georgetown Today, March 1972


Memo from Henry Kissinger regarding Latin American trade commitments, July 1974


  • Letter from David Abshire to Father Henle dated 21 January regarding the separation of CSIS Chairman and Executive Director and appointment of former CIA operative Ray Cline to Executive Director of Studies.


  • Memorandum from July 1974 from Henry Kissinger (Secretary of State) regarding the administration's trade commitments to Latin America, advising that where possible the US should intensify trade with the region. Serves as a good example of the prominent strategy formation the CSIS provided at the time.



CIA/CSIS: A Pheonix Rising, April 1980
  • Article from 1 April regarding close ties between Georgetown, the CSIS and the CIA, especially GU hospitals involvement in 'MKULTRA', which writer John Marks asserted was an attempt by the CIA to control human behaviour en masse through the use of mind-altering substances such as LSD. The article asserted that 'no one can doubt that limited manipulation effects aimed at winning public support for a strengthened CIA are emanating from GU/CSIS complex'.


  • Georgetown Magazine issue featuring 'CSIS - Georgetown's think tank on the potomac' - 14 page spread including various scholarly extracts and emerging strategic issues as well as photographs of key players like Abshire and Laqueur.
Image of CSIS scholars, from Georgetown Magazine issue July/August 1980


Confirmation of Board decision of separate incorporation, November 1986


  • Letter from Tim Healy to Stanley Katz dated October 7 taking on board the recommendation of a separate incorporation of CSIS stating that 'we are proceeding to an orderly separation' and that he hopes 'to avoid any claims of rancour or displeasure.'


  • Confirmation of the separate incorporation decision made by the Board. General Andrew Goodpaster, who sat on the committee of external evaluators, argued that independently both Georgetown University and CSIS can 'embellish the characteristic activities which make them so valuable.' The five-member committee of external evaluators was made up of Sir Michael Howard, Samuel P. Huntington, Stanley Katz and Jaroslav Pelikan, as well as Goodpaster himself.


  1. Georgetown University News Service, Centre for Strategic Studies announcement, Archive File from Georgetown University, dated 3 June 1962, 1 August 2014
  2. Donald Sheehan, Letter to Reverend E.B Bunn regarding the opening of the CSIS, dated 23 June 1962, 1 August 2014
  3. Dale Dean, 'Research and Communication: The Centre for Strategic Studies', Courier, Volume XI, No. 5, February 1963, 1 August 2014
  4. Arleigh Burke, Letter to Father Campbell regarding CSIS move of headquarters, dated 5 February 1964, 1 August 2014
  5. Father Campbell, Letter to Arleigh Burke regarding CSIS restructuring, September 11 1964, 1 August 2014
  6. Admiral Burke, Letter to Father Campbell regarding appointment of new professors and Scaife family grant, dated April 22 1966, 1 August 2014
  7. Arleigh Burke, letter to CEO of Automobile Manufacturers Association, dated 13 September 1966, 1 August 2014
  8. The HOYA, 'Georgetown Centre for Strategic Studies Report', 11 December 1966, accessed 1 August 2014
  9. Don Robinson, 'Georgetown U. Students Show Few Signs of Rebellion', Washington Post, dated 25 April 1967, accessed 8 December 2015
  10. Free University Catalogue, outlining rules by which Free University operates, 1 October 1967, accessed 8 December 2015
  11. Arleigh Burke, letter to Father Campbell regarding foundation of Research Council, dated August 30 1968, accessed 8 December 2015
  12. 'A dialogue of the decision makers', CSIS article in Georgetown Alumni magazine, published May 1968, accessed 1 August 2014