UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Former U.S. ambassador to head International House

– Martin G. Brennan, a diplomat who served as U.S. ambassador to Uganda and Zambia, has been named the new executive director of International House, a multicultural residence and program center at the University of California, Berkeley. Brennan succeeds Joe Lurie, who will step down at the end of June as executive director of the unique, 75-year-old center after two decades of service.

Martin Brennan
Martin Brennan (James Block photo)

Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau announced Brennan's appointment today (Friday, May 11) following a comprehensive nine-month hunt. Brennan will assume the post on July 1.

"Martin Brennan's background is a wonderful fit for International House and for Berkeley," said Birgeneau, who serves as chairman of the board of directors of International House. "Not only will Martin provide the expertise and vision needed to direct International House into the future, he will also serve as a great role model for residents of the House and for all Berkeley students studying and working in international studies."

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Brennan holds a master's degree from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1976) and a bachelor's degree in African Studies from the University of California at Berkeley (1971).

"As a student at UC Berkeley, International House called me to the global arena," Brennan said. "Today I am honored to return to Berkeley in service to an institution that means so much to so many. I look forward to working with residents, alumni, staff and friends to ensure that International House continues to forge the future in intercultural understanding."

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor, Brennan brings more than 30 years of experience in international affairs to the job. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1976, he has served in Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Taiwan, Portugal, Thailand, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia. In his overseas assignments, Brennan carried out commercial, labor, consular, political, refugee assistance and public affairs duties. His refugee work took him to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

He also served as acting director in the Office of Southern African Affairs for the U.S. Department of State and was actively involved in Angola's and Mozambique's peace processes. While serving in Africa, Brennan advocated and raised funds for various projects to combat the HIV-AIDS pandemic. He is the recipient of two U.S. Department of State Superior Honor and five Meritorious Honor awards.

Brennan has also served as director of programs for the World Affairs Council of Northern California and most recently served as Diplomat in Residence at the University of New Mexico. He is fluent in French, Italian and Portuguese and has some proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.

Established in August 1930, International House serves UC Berkeley students, community members and alumni. Its mission is to foster intercultural understanding, lifelong friendships and leadership skills for the promotion of a more tolerant and peaceful world. Nearly 600 U.S. and international students, mostly at the graduate level, reside at International House during the academic year.