Thomas Vallely



Thomas J. Vallely is Senior Advisor for Vietnam at Columbia University’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute. At the Institute he co-teaches a course for Columbia undergraduates on the Vietnam War and supports the expansion of the Institute’s engagement with Vietnam, including in the fields of Vietnamese Studies and public policy.

Prior to joining Columbia in 2024, Vallely spent 35 years at Harvard University where he founded the Harvard Vietnam Program in 1989 and established the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP) in Ho Chi Minh City in 1994. Vallely leveraged the Vietnam Program’s research to engage in a candid and constructively critical dialogue with the Vietnamese government about Vietnam’s development challenges. Under his leadership, FETP emerged as a center of excellence in public policy research and teaching and a pioneer in the development of new modes of institutional governance in Vietnam.

Vallely is responsible for several innovative bilateral educational initiatives including the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), which awarded STEM scholarships to Vietnamese students, and Fulbright University Vietnam, which merged with the FETP upon its establishment in 2016.

Earlier in his career, Vallely was a senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he worked on strategic and military issues in East and Southeast Asia.

He has worked as a political consultant and was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1980, where he served until 1987. From 2014 to 2017, Vallely served on the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Policy Advisory Board.

Vallely received a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts/Boston and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School and served with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam. Vallely served as Senior Advisor to The Vietnam War, an epic ten-part documentary miniseries directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

In 2014, the Phan Chau Trinh Cultural Foundation awarded Vallely the Phan Chau Trinh Cultural Prize for his contributions to Vietnamese higher education.


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