NEWPORT, R.I. – The Salve Regina University community is mourning the loss of Dr. Peter Liotta, professor of political science and humanities, and former executive director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, who was killed in a single car accident this morning in Newport.
Dr. Liotta was appointed Pell Center director in May 2004, serving in that position for six years before stepping down in August 2010. Prior to his arrival at Salve Regina, he served as the Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College.
“The Salve Regina University community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Peter Liotta,” said Jane Gerety, R.S.M., president. “He was beloved by his students, respected among colleagues and renowned internationally for his prolific writing and expertise on world issues.
“During Dr. Liotta’s tenure as executive director of Salve Regina’s Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, he produced high caliber programs that were both timely and relevant,” Gerety said. “His leadership connected the university with many national and international institutions and organizations."
The university is working to make sure those students enrolled in Dr. Liotta’s classes this semester are able to fulfill their academic requirements. Counseling services will also be made available for the students and other members of the university community.
Dr. Peter Liotta
Dr. Liotta served for two decades in the U.S. Air Force, and piloted T-38, KC-135, UV-18, C-12 and (with the Hellenic Air Force) the Mirage 2000. He also served as Fulbright lecturer and poet-in-residence (Slobodan umjetnik, 1988-1989) in former Yugoslavia. He had traveled widely throughout the former Soviet Union, particularly the Caucasus and Central Asia, to the Altai region of Siberia, Tajikistan, the Afghan front, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia and Iran.
The author of 17 books and numerous articles in fields as diverse as poetry, criticism, education, international security, intervention ethics, and foreign policy analysis, Dr. Liotta also published a novel, Diamond’s Compass, about Iran. Recent work included The Exile’s Return (published in the Macedonian language) as well as the co-authored The Fight for Legitimacy: Democracy versus Terrorism; A Fevered Crescent: Security and Insecurity in the Great Near East; and Gaia's Revenge: Climate Change and Humanity's Loss.
Dr. Liotta was the editor-in-chief of the Politics and Environment Series for Praeger Books, a division of Greenwood Publishing. His research interests included the study of geography and geopolitics (particularly in Southeast Europe, the Euro-Mediterranean, and Central and South Asia) as well the re-examination of environmental, human, and demographic security issues in the contemporary environment.
Since 2004, Dr. Liotta regularly lectured on demographics, migration, and security at the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy.
He was an adjunct professor in comparative politics and international relations in the U.S. Military Academy’s Department of Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, an associate of the Global Environmental Change and Human Security project of Oslo, Norway and a memebr of Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability of Climate Change) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He was part of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Liotta was the first graduate of Providence’s Moses Brown Society of Friends Preparatory School to go on to a military academy. He earned a bachelor of science degree in humanities from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado in 1978. He had a master’s degree in communication from the University of Oklahoma (1984), a master’s degree in English literature from Cornell University (1987), and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies with “highest distinction” from the Naval War College, Newport (1997). He also had a master of fine arts degree in creative writing and translation from Cornell (1987) and a Ph.D. in humanities from Salve Regina University (1999).