Cambridge, MA – One of the world’s most dynamic human rights leaders and a renowned international economist are recipients of the Harvard Kennedy School 2016 Richard E. Neustadt and Thomas C. Schelling Awards. The awards will be presented May 5 during a ceremony in Cambridge hosted by Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Dean Douglas Elmendorf.

Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, a commissioner of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, 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 former Irish President Mary Robinson (2015); former U.S. Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) (2013); William “Bill” Drayton (2012); Paul Volcker (2011);  Alice M. Rivlin (2009); Gro Harlem Brundtland (2008); Justice Richard J. Goldstone (2007); Dr. Muhammad Yunus (2006); and Dr. Judith Gueron (2005).  

Stanley Fischer, who has served as vice-chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System since 2014, 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 Professor William Nordhaus (2015); Professor Sara McLanahan (2013); Professor Amartya Sen (2012); Professor Esther Duflo (2011); Nobel laureate Professor Harold Varmus (2009); Professor Howard Raiffa (2008); Professor Jagdish Bhagwati (2007); Professor Daniel Kahneman (2006); and Judge Richard Posner (2005). 

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

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

“We are excited to recognize and honor the remarkable contributions of this year's recipients, both of whom have dedicated their lives and careers to the pursuit of knowledge and to helping society address the many great challenges confronting us,” said Dean Elmendorf. “The Neustadt and Schelling awards are named after two people who were instrumental in the creation of the modern Kennedy School, so this could not be more fitting."

Navanethem (Navi) Pillay is a commissioner of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty after serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014.  A South African national, Pillay was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967.  Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island. In 1995, Pillay was appointed as acting judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last four (1999-2003) as president. In 2003, she was elected judge on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where she remained until August 2008. She has also served as a member of the Women’s National Coalition and is co-founder of Equality Now, and international women’s rights organization.

Stanley Fischer is Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  He began his career as an academic, serving on faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1973 to 1999.  He served as chief economist of the World Bank from 1988 to 1990, and as the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund from 1994 to 2001.   From 2002 to 2005, Fischer served as vice chairman of Citigroup. Prior to his appointment to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Fischer served as governor of the Bank of Israel from 2005 to 2013.  He has published many articles on a wide variety of economic issues, and is the author and editor of several scholarly books. Fischer has been a fellow at the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Econometric Society, as well as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an honorary fellow at the London School of Economics.

The 2016 Neustadt and Schelling Awards Selection Committee comprises:

  • Vartan Gregorian (Chair), President, Carnegie Corporation of New York; President, Brown University (1989–97); Founding Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences (1974), and Provost (1978–81), University of Pennsylvania; 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, president emerita, Wellesley College (1981-93) and Duke University (1993-2004).
  • Donna Shalala, president of the Clinton Foundation; president of the University of Miami (2001-15); U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (1993-2001).
  • Paul Volcker, chairman, The Volcker Alliance; chairman, 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 to 1971. 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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