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Alum Heads UN Public Information Office

Alum Heads UN Public Information OfficeA Tufts alum talks to the New York Times about the pressures and rewards of heading the United Nation's public relations program. New York.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.21.01] In a recent interview, Tufts graduate Shanshi Tharoor told the New York Times that he had one of the most challenging "temp" jobs in New York City -- running the United Nation's public information office on an interim basis.

Appointed in January by Secretary General Kofi Annan, Tharoor oversees over 700 UN employees worldwide from his New York office. The interim position is accompanied by a host of challenges -- including the management of the less-than-glossy public image that the UN has acquired in years past.

Although the New York Times noted "the United Nations has never had the greatest success putting the best public face on its work," Tharoor isn't discouraged.

"For the moment, I'm having a whale of a time," the Fletcher graduate told the newspaper.

And he appears to be making quite an impression.

"Tharoor -- who has earned a reputation as an urbane, quick thinker, one not above appreciating the strategic value of small gestures -- appears to be thriving," the New York Times reported.

The newspaper noted that the Tufts graduate brings a significant amount of international diplomatic experience to his position, thanks to a 23-year UN career.

During the Bosnian war, the Times reported, Tharoor "led the team handling the United Nation's peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia and was Annan's chief aide in the peacekeeping department."

That experience appears to be a useful tool in his current position.

Noticing Tharoor's outfit on the day of his interview, New York Times reporter Lynda Richardson wrote: "On this day, for instance, he shows up for an interview he knew would touch on New York's difficult dealings with the [United Nations] wearing a rather hideous tie from the New York City Transit Museum, with a United Nations tie clip."

"Did he wake up this particular morning with a fashion flash?" she asks.

Tharoor's response to her was simple, "In the world of diplomacy, no coincidence is entirely accidental."

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