CAMBRIDGE, MA – A transformative political leader and one of the nation’s most influential economists are recipients of the 2015 Richard E. Neustadt and Thomas C. Schelling Awards. The awards will be presented May 6 during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum hosted by Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Dean David T. Ellwood.

Mary Robinson, who served as President of Ireland from 1990-97 and as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002, will receive the Richard E. Neustadt Award.  The award is bestowed annually to honor one or more individuals for creating powerful solutions to public problems, drawing on research and intellectual ideas as appropriate. Past recipients include Dr. Judith Gueron (2005), Dr. Muhammad Yunus (2006), Justice Richard J. Goldstone (2007), Gro Harlem Brundtland (2008), Alice M. Rivlin (2009), Paul Volcker (2011), William “Bill” Drayton (2012) and former U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) (2013). 

William Nordhaus, the Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University and chair of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, will be presented with the Thomas C. Schelling Award, bestowed annually to an individual whose remarkable intellectual work has had a transformative impact on public policy. Past recipients include Judge Richard Posner (2005), Professor Daniel Kahneman (2006), Professor Jagdish Bhagwati (2007), Professor Howard Raiffa (2008), Nobel laureate Professor Harold Varmus (2009), Professor Esther Duflo (2011), Professor Amartya Sen (2012), and Professor Sara McLanahan (2013).

Each recipient will be awarded a $25,000 prize intended to support their important work. 

Funding for the awards has been provided by the David Rubenstein Fund for Kennedy School Excellence. The fund was established in 2004 by a generous $10 million gift from David M. Rubenstein, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.

“We are proud to honor the remarkable contributions to our nation and our world of this year's recipients, both of whom have worked on behalf of the public good, dedicating their lives and careers to the pursuit of knowledge and to help bridge the gap between academia and society to help solve public problems,” said HKS Dean David T. Ellwood. “The Schelling and Neustadt awards are given in the names of two people who were instrumental in the creation of the modern Kennedy School, so this could not be more fitting."

Mary Robinson is President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. After serving as the 7th President of Ireland, Robinson was appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-10 and served as Honorary President of Oxfam International from 2002-12. From March 2013-August 2014 Robinson served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. She currently serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change and as Chancellor of the University of Dublin.  Robinson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by President Barack Obama.

William Nordhaus is the Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University and President of the American Economic Association. He currently serves as Chair of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on several committees of the National Academy of Sciences on topics including climate change, environmental accounting, risk, and the role of the tax system in climate change. From 1977-79, Nordhaus served as a Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.  He is author of many books, including (joint with Paul Samuelson) the classic textbook, “Economics,” whose 19th edition was published in 2009. His most recent book on climate change is “The Climate Casino” (Yale Press, 2013).

 The 2015 Neustadt and Schelling Awards Selection Committee is comprised of:

  • Vartan Gregorian (chair), president, Carnegie Corporation of New York; president of Brown University (1989-97); founding dean (1974), provost (1978-81), Faculty of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania; and president, New York Public Library (1981-89).
  • R. Glenn Hubbard, Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics and dean, Columbia University Business School; chair, U.S. Council of Economic Advisors (2001-03).
  • Nannerl Keohane, Laurance S. Rockefeller Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University; president, Wellesley College (1981-93); president, Duke University (1993-2004).
  • Donna Shalala, professor of political science and president of the University of Miami; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (1993-2001).
  • Paul Volcker, chair, President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board (2009-11); chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve (1979-87).

Richard Neustadt, Douglas Dillon professor of government, was an eminent presidential scholar and advisor to three U.S. presidents who served as founding director of the Institute of Politics from 1965-71. He served as associate dean of the Kennedy School until 1975. He died in November 2003.

Thomas Schelling, Lucius N. Littauer professor of political economy, emeritus, is internationally renowned for his work on game theory, specifically in regards to the dangers of nuclear war. He received the 2005 Nobel Prize for Economics. Schelling has held various positions in the White House and the Executive Office of the President, and is now distinguished university professor at the University Of Maryland School Of Public Policy.


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