December 1, 2005

The Sun Chats With Former President Jeffrey S. Lehman '77

Print More

As the semester comes to a close, The Sun decided to take a look at the whereabouts of Cornell’s previous leadership. Former President Jeffery S. Lehman ’77 is keeping himself busy with several different projects operating out of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. and working on the Advisory Board for the Center of Law and Security at New York University.
The Sun: Your project is entitled, “Multilateral Cooperation among Transnational Research Universities.” What is that?
JL: It’s about the structural impediments to the things that make ideas different to universities across borders.
The Sun: What else are you working on?
JL: My second writing project is on China, and the extent to which legal institutions are necessary for economic growth. I’m studying the institutional prerequisites for convergence between different bodies and the extent to which universities can be a part of legal reform. I am interested in how universities play a role in international politics and in the economy, [and] I’ve been interested in Chinese legal reform since I was at the University of Michigan. Right now we are looking seriously at partnerships with top institutions with both China and India. The two most visible are the Peking University program, CAPS, [officiated last week], and another one with Ching-hua University. That is a partnership between engineering schools. I am also working on putting together an edited collection of my principal Cornell speeches.
The Sun: How are these projects drawing from your past experiences as President and, as Dean of the University of Michigan Law School?
JL: As a law professor I taught about the welfare state – those are the fields I teach in, the tax side and the poverty side, and the topics of diversity integration. All these projects are the kinds of things I’ll continue to work on.
The Sun: How are you enjoying your time off?
JL: It’s been 11 years since I took a sabbatical – I’m committed to making my leave about nothing more than the projects I’m working on.
The Sun: Earlier this semester, you came back to give a speech in the College of Human Ecology, see the Homecoming football game against Georgetown and to teach a class at the Law School. Is it painful for you to be back here?
JL: I love Cornell. I was asked to come back for a formal farewell to Cathy and me. I had committed to teach a class in the law school and to giving a talk at Human Ecology.
The Sun: Have you been consulted by the Presidential Search Committee?
JL: No, I have not been consulted. This is a group that is very sophisticated about presidential searches.
The Sun: You were offered a position as a tenured professor at the law school. Are you coming back?
JL: That’s the plan.

Archived article by Sun News Editor Erica Fink