Dr. Robert Satloff (T’83) is one of America’s foremost experts on Arab and Islamic politics and U.S. Middle East policy. Since 1993, he has served as Executive Director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a non-partisan “idea factory” focused on the political, security, military, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of the Middle East. In addition to his Duke B.A., Rob has a master’s in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University and a D.Phil. in modern Middle East history from St. Antony's College, University of Oxford.
Why did you choose to attend Duke?
Growing up in Rhode Island, I never heard of Duke, until the Blue Devils played URI in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament in 1978 – and won by just one point. I was intrigued about this excellent school in the South and the more I learned about it, the more interested I became. I was invited to visit the school as part of the competition process for an Angier B. Duke Scholarship, was blown away with the beauty of the campus and had a great time. When I was fortunate enough to receive the Scholarship, the choice was clear.
What did you study, and what organizations were you involved with on campus?
Like most students, I bounced around from major to major until I found my special interest in defining my own major via the Comparative Area Studies program. I combined Middle Eastern and South Asian studies into what essentially was a major in Islamic history and Arabic language – knowledge that I still draw on every day in my professional life, more than three decades later.