Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

In Memoriam: Peter F. Geithner (1932-2016)

CASI is deeply saddened by the passing of Peter F. Geithner on July 29, 2016, at the age of 84. Many knew Peter through The Ford Foundation, where he worked for 28 years focused on Asia programs, serving as the Deputy Representative for India, Representative for Southeast Asia, Program Officer in charge of Developing Country Programs, and Ford’s first representative in China.

Peter Geithner dedicated over 16 years of exceptional service to the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania as a member of its International Advisory Board (IAB). His unfailing support and sage counsel have been critical to the Center’s emergence as the leading university-based center in the United States for the study of contemporary India. He advised CASI’s founding director, Francine R. Frankel, as well as her successor and current director, Devesh Kapur. His energy, encouragement, and enthusiasm steered CASI into the forefront as a premier academic research institute. Peter's role was especially crucial to CASI's institutional growth in its early years from 1992 to 2002. He guided the development of the Board’s governance and membership criteria, helped recruit Board leadership and members, served as acting chair during times of transition, and provided critical support for CASI's research and operations through multiple grants from The Ford Foundation. 

Francine R. Frankel, founding director of CASI and Professor Emerita of Political Science at Penn, recounts, “Peter Geithner played a seminal role in establishing CASI when he was Director, Asia Programs, The Ford Foundation. He understood the requirements of excellence in first-rate academic programs, and having lived in India, was astute about its social complexities and political dynamics. He was innovative and willing to stand behind the idea of the first India Center in the U.S. at the University of Pennsylvania. We had several brain-storming meetings which resulted in the plan for a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to CASI’s research programs. His support resulted in two grants by The Ford Foundation for institutional support (in 1992 and 1995 of $500,000 each); and subsequent Ford Foundation grants for graduate students, an international conference, and founding of the Madan Lal Sobti Chair. As a member of the International Advisory Board, Peter was a soft-spoken source of authority who always managed to ask the critical questions that improved each new proposal.”

Dr. Marshall M. Bouton, President Emeritus of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, CASI Senior Fellow, IAB member, and former IAB chairman (2004-2012) first met Peter in 1968 in Delhi. He recalls, "Asia was his passion and he made a big difference to a lot of people and institutions in Asia and the U.S., including CASI. It is fair to say that CASI would not have achieved its prominence were it not for Peter's wise counsel and unfailing commitment.”

"It has been a privilege to work with Peter and have CASI be shaped by his deep understanding of India," adds CASI Director Devesh Kapur. "Peter stepped down from CASI's IAB on its 20th anniversary having ensured its strong institutional moorings. As we approach the Center's 25th anniversary in 2017, we will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Geithner family at this time of great loss." 

The New York Times Obituary courtesy of

Image Credit: Ben Asen