President Barack Obama appointed Georgetown University adjunct professor Ron Klain (CAS ’83) to head the United States’ response to the Ebola outbreak Friday, affecting his role on campus this semester.

“When the president called, giving up this class was one of the top things on my mind,” Klain said to his class, “Presidential Debates,” Monday night, according to students in the department of government seminar.

Klain has taught this course on and off since spring 2012. According to students in the seminar, the future of this semester’s class remains undecided.

“Professor Klain is working it out with the government department now. It’s not totally conclusive what he’s going to be doing, but he is still going to be involved with the class in some form,” Alexandra De Luca (COL ’15), a student in the class, said.

Possibilities include the placement of a substitute professor for the remainder of the semester, but Klain assured the students that they would receive credit for the course.

“He specifically says that the fact that he’s going to go off and have this opportunity doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to graduate, because we will be able to keep the class and the class will still count,” De Luca said.

As Ebola czar, Klain will coordinate the federal response to any outbreak in the United States. He will report to White House Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, according to CNN.

“It makes sense for us to have one person … so that after this initial surge of activity, we can have a more regular process just to make sure that we’re crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s going forward,” Obama said to CNN.

Klain graduated Georgetown summa cum laude with a degree in Government before receiving his juris doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. He is a former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and served as an adviser to both President Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) and Obama. He is currently president of Case Holdings and general counsel at Revolution, an investment group launched by AOL co-founder Steve Case.

Michael Stoto, a professor of health systems administration and population health in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown and a senior scholar in residence at AcademyHealth, a nonpartisan health research and policy group, said that Obama’s decision to appoint someone with political experience, rather than a science background, would bring in a variety of perspectives.

“I think what it does add is the ability to manage things. I think we have terrifically capable scientists and public health people at [the Center for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health] and lots of other organizations,” Stoto said. “But whenever you have a lot of organizations that have different perspectives you have the question of, how do you get them all to work together? So the idea of having a so-called czar to manage their interactions can be a very useful thing.”

Stoto said that Klain, unaffiliated with any medical or scientific agency, would be better able to objectively make decisions, rather than imposing his own opinions.

“His job is to manage the process rather than to give his view about what should be done. And I think that’s an appropriate thing when you have such a complicated system and a need for a very timely response,” Stoto said.

De Luca praised Klain as one of the best professors she has had at Georgetown, notably for his unique experience in his field.

“He knows all these people and is able to bring in great speakers,” she said. “I mean, you can’t really get much more than that.”

She also complimented Klain for the attention and interest he puts into his students. She recounted a time when she ran into him at Wisemiller’s on the second day of class, and he greeted her by name.

“I don’t think any professor I’ve ever had, especially one with such a high-profile job, and he’s an adjunct — I’ve never had a professor get to know my name on the second day of class. I don’t know — it was really impressive,” she said.

At the end of class, his students applauded and shook his hand as they filed out of the classroom.

According to his students, Klain told his class that his position as Ebola czar will end in February.

During his time as an undergraduate at Georgetown, Klain served on the Board of Editors of The Hoya. In November 2013, Klain hosted an event on ethics in politics with actor Kevin Spacey.

Hoya Staff Writers Kshithij Shrinath and Laura Wagner contributed reporting.

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