Francis Ricciardone ’73 has been nominated to fill the position of United States Department of State Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey by President Barack Obama, according to a July 1 White House press release. As a career minister in the Foreign Service, Ricciardone has served as deputy ambassador and charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan since 2009.
If Ricciardone is approved by the Senate, he will begin serving in Ankara, Turkey, The Journal of Turkish Weekly reported.
During the international banking crisis, Turkey remained a fast-growing economic power, The New York Times reported Monday. Last week, Turkey reported an 11.4 percent economic expansion for the first quarter of the fiscal year, and the country may soon gain admission to the European Union, according to The Times. Twenty-seven nations are currently members of the EU.
If approved, Ricciardone will succeed James Jeffrey, who was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, according to the press release.
“I am very honored to be nominated for this position,” Ricciardone said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth. “And I’ve always been very grateful for the education and lifelong friendships I gained at Dartmouth, which directly influenced my choice of career in U.S. government service abroad.”
Ricciardone declined to comment further, citing protocol which calls for presidential nominees to refrain from media interviews until the Senate confirmation vote.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has not yet set a hearing date, according to Ricciardone.
Ricciardone taught in Iran in 1976 before traveling across Asia, Europe and the Middle East, according to the Department of State website. He entered the Foreign Service in 1978.
After serving two tours in Turkey, including an assignment as deputy chief of mission and charge d’affaires, Ricciardone was appointed the political advisor to the U.S. and Turkish commanding generals of Operation Provide Comfort, a military operation run by the United States and several allies to assist Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq following the Persian Gulf War in 1991, according to the release.
Ricciardone previously served as ambassador to Egypt, the Philippines and Palau, and led the reorganization of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2004 and the Department of State’s Task Force in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to the press release.
Ricciardone returned to the College on Oct. 3, 2002 to deliver a lecture to students titled “Influencing the Morning After in Iraq,” which addressed Middle Eastern politics and advocated for democracy in Iraq, The Dartmouth previously reported.
While an undergraduate at the College, Ricciardone was a student of French Professor John Rassias, former chair of the French and Italian department and president of the Rassias Foundation.
Ricciardone also served as a teaching assistant for beginning language classes in the French and Italian department, according to Rassias.
Rassias said that Ricciardone’s knowledge of multiple languages, including French, Italian, Turkish and Arabic, helped him succeed in the Foreign Service.
“The more languages you speak, the more you can deal with problems that arise in other countries,” Rassias said. “When the government sends someone abroad who can’t speak the language and they have to speak through an interpreter, it’s just not what the people really want.”
Ricciardone’s “sincerity” and “authenticity” make him an effective leader, Rassias said.
“When he speaks, people truly believe what he says,” Rassias said. “He doesn’t try to play games or try to be some kind of big guy, but instead is right there with everyone else.”
Rassias added that the Dartmouth community should be proud of Ricciardone and the work he has done for the international community.
“His appointment as ambassador to Turkey represents a true step forward,” Rassias said. “He has character, honesty, intellect, humanity and authenticity, which is exactly what you would want from someone in his position.”
Ricciardone’s nomination was announced along with several other key administrative posts within the State Department.
“I am grateful that these impressive individuals have agreed to join my administration,” Obama said in the release. “I am confident they will serve ably in their new roles, and look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”
The White House and the U.S. Department of State did not respond to requests for comment by press time.