Harvard Law School Professor William Alford ’77 received an honorary degree from the University of Geneva in December 2010, recognizing him as “an eminent person of contemporary international law … whose reputation extends far beyond the borders of the United States.” Other recipients in 2010 included the Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, José Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, and several distinguished European intellectuals. (See the complete list.)
Alford, who is vice dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies at HLS, helped to create exchange programs between Harvard Law and leading law schools around the world, including the University of Geneva Faculty of Law. The University of Geneva was founded in 1559 by John Calvin. At the ceremony in which Alford accepted the Doctorate Honoris Causa, his role in creating the exchange program was highlighted in addition to his profile as a highly respected scholar. Books that he has authored or edited include “Prospects for Professionalism in China: Essays on Civic Vocations” (Routledge, 2011), edited with Harvard historian Bill Kirby and Harvard Kennedy School ethicist Ken Winston); “A Study of Legal Mechanisms to Protect Persons with Disabilities” (published in Chinese, Huaxia, 2007), edited with Wang Liming and Ma Yu’er; “Raising the Bar: The Emerging Legal Profession in East Asia” (Harvard East Asian Legal Studies, 2007); and “To Steal a Book Is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization” (Stanford, 1995). He is also author of numerous articles.
At the ceremony in Geneva, Alford was also praised as a “great humanitarian.” He is chair of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, which he founded with Michael Stein ’88 in 2004. He has advised the American government, multilateral organizations, foundations, NGOs, and other entities regarding China and today is an honorary professor at Renmin University, Zhejiang University and the Chinese National Institute of Administration.