Bill Lucas ’73 named State Department Diplomat in Residence for the southeast
Morehead-Cain Alum to Serve as Diplomat in Residence
By Anna Claire Eddington
UNC Global News
February in Kabul is chilly and clear with snow-covered mountains surrounding the city. For Bill Lucas ’73, the Senior U.S. Embassy-Kabul Representative to Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, this is the first and last of his Kabul winters. In August, Lucas, a 1973 UNC alum and Morehead Scholar, will be taking up the position of Diplomat in Residence for the southern mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of State, the position of Diplomat in Residence provides “guidance and advice to students, professionals and the community about Department careers,” and Lucas is “thrilled” about his new position.
“I thrived in my four years at Carolina, and when the opportunity arose to combine UNC and foreign service- two of my passions- I had to get involved,” Lucas said. “My career has been a very rich experience, and I’m just excited to introduce students to it. I think it’s a very attractive career path, but not for everyone.”
While his official appointment is to Duke University, he will split his time between UNC and Duke, as well as in travel throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
“As the Diplomat in Residence, I’ll have an office at Duke as well as at the Global Education Center at UNC where the Global Research Institute is located,” he said. “I’ll be in the presence of some amazingly talented academics who have been selected as scholars at the GRI. I can’t think of anything more exciting than having those kinds of minds around me sharing ideas and insights.”
Participating in the university is a key component of Lucas’ new position, and he plans to engage fully with the campus community.
“Once my career-advice obligations are met, my time is my own to get involved- that will be such a rewarding part of the job,” Lucas said. “There will be seminars, classes to audit, the occasion to give lectures, seeing where I can plug in and offer any insights and learn from others.”
For Lucas, the position will be a “great change of pace” from the constant demands of his job in war-torn Afghanistan. He looks forward to extensive interaction with students, with their immense enthusiasm for global affairs and differing perspectives.
“Dealing with the 18 to 22 year-old cohort is exciting for me, because of the opportunity to share ideas with people who are looking for a direction to go with their own career,” he said. “It’s true that the world has become more interconnected and young people want to get involved and play their part. This will be wonderfully interesting for me to see and discuss the issues of the day.”
Lucas is well-equipped to lead young adults in discussions. He is a 31-year career foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State, currently leading a 30-person civilian-military team promoting rule of law in Afghanistan. He served temporarily last year as deputy assistant secretary (acting) in the European and Eurasian Bureau and, separately, as Chargé d’Affaires (acting) in Embassy Prague. At that time, Lucas also directed the office of European Union and regional economic affairs, starting in 2007. He served as deputy in the same office from 1998-2000. He also took a five-month bridge assignment as coordinator for OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) affairs. Prior to that, Lucas was detailed to the National Security Council as director for Africa (2006-2007). He served at State as director of U.S. policy on human rights, humanitarian, and social issues arising in the UN system from 2004-2005. He returned in June 2004 from a two-year assignment as political counselor at the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines.
Lucas served from 2000-2002 as deputy director of policy toward southern Africa, including ten countries and the region-wide Southern African Development Community (SADC). In related assignments, he also served twice as a political officer in the U.S. Embassy, Pretoria (1981-83, 1988-91) and once on the South Africa Desk in Washington (1980-81).
Other assignments with the State Department include: first secretary, U.S. Mission to the European Union, Brussels (1995-1998); special assistant (for Europe) to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (1994-95); Russia desk officer (1993-94); Denmark/Norway desk officer; conventional arms control officer, European Regional Political/Military Affairs (1986-88); and analyst, Office of West European Analysis (1984-85).
He has received several awards, including three Superior Honor Awards, two Meritorious Honor Awards, and a Meritorious Step Increase. Lucas received the Morehead Scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , where he graduated with a BA in English in 1973. After private, overland travel through 20 sub-Saharan African countries, he enrolled in the Johns Hopkins University, School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Washington, DC. In addition to his MA from SAIS in 1978, Lucas received a Master’s degree in Political Science from Stanford University on a mid-career sabbatical from the State Department in 1986.
Lucas’ expertise is matched only by his excitement for his new position, despite the fact that he is based at Duke. “Nothing will ever compare to Carolina, but I’m also a big fan of Duke University,” he said. “In fact, I can even support Duke basketball…except for when they play Carolina, of course.”