Chair of the Advisory Board: Mark G. Yudof
Mark G. Yudof, who served as the 19th president of the University of California from 2008 through 2013, is an Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Yudof previously served as chancellor of the University of Texas System and as president of the four-campus University of Minnesota. Before that, he served as dean of the law school at the University of Texas at Austin from 1984 to 1994, and as the University’s executive vice president and provost from 1994 to 1997.
Yudof is a recognized authority on constitutional law, freedom of expression and education law. He is the author of When Government Speaks and co-author of five editions of Educational Policy and the Law. A Philadelphia native, he earned both LL.B. and B.A. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion awarded him an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. He is a member of the governing boards of Hebrew University and the University of Haifa, and also serves on the boards of the Lumina Foundation, the Opportunity Institute (Berkeley), and the Blum Center for Developing Economies. In addition to chairing the advisory board of the Academic Engagement Network, he is currently a senior consultant to the Schusterman Family Foundation. His spouse Judy is the former president of United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism.
Executive Director: Kenneth Waltzer
Kenneth Waltzer is Professor Emeritus of History and former Director of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University. He is a historian educated at the State University of New York at Binghamton (B.A.) and at Harvard (Ph.D.), and came to Michigan to help build James Madison College, MSU’s highly reputed residential college in public affairs. During his career, he served as Dean and Associate Dean of the college, Director of Integrative Studies in the Arts and Humanities, and co-founder of MSU’s Jewish Studies Program and its study abroad initiatives in Israel. His several teaching awards include the State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award and the Mid-Michigan Alumni Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. In recent years, he co-curated the American Identity Explorer: Immigration and Migration CD-ROM (McGraw-Hill, 1998, 2001), and he became well known for work on the rescue of children and youths at Buchenwald. He was historical consultant for the film Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald; he is also the historian who outed the Holocaust memoir fraud, Angel at the Fence. His essays opposing BDS, defending academic freedom and free speech, and exploring the new antisemitism appear in numerous journals. His essay “Integrating the U.C. Regents Principles Against Intolerance into Campus Policies and Practices” will appear in a new collection of essays on contemporary antisemitism to be published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Deputy Director: Michael Atkins
Mike Atkins joined the Academic Engagement Network in January 2016 as its Deputy Director. In this role, Mike manages daily operations of the network, oversees and implements AEN’s programs and initiatives, and supervises AEN’s professional staff in the Washington DC national office. Mike is a former practicing attorney, having worked for five years as an associate at the global law firm Baker & McKenzie. As an attorney, he focused on commercial and antitrust litigation and also devoted significant time to pro bono matters, which included representing a public housing tenant and co-authoring an amicus brief in a children’s rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court. While in law school, his work for the Wisconsin Innocence Project helped to exonerate a man who was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder and imprisoned for twenty-three years before his release. In law school he also served as President of the Jewish Law Students Association. Mike’s longstanding interest in Israel-related causes led him to leave the practice of law and join AEN. Mike received his B.A. in History from Yale University and his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Senior Associate for Communications: Raeefa Shams
Raeefa Shams joined the Academic Engagement Network in September 2016 as its Senior Associate for Communication. In this role, she focuses on informing AEN members, partner organizations, media publications, and the broader community about the organization’s work, and collaborating with AEN members, partners, and staff to strategize responses to on-campus developments. Prior to joining AEN, Raeefa worked in several positions conducting social and demographic research for higher educational institutions and international development organizations, and also provided independent educational consulting services. Raeefa currently serves on the board of the Washington, DC chapter of JNFuture, the young professional arm of the Jewish National Fund, and is active in several other community organizations. Raeefa earned her B.A. in History from Wellesley College and her M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago.
Senior Associate for Membership and Diversity: Melissa Landa
Melissa Landa was an award-winning faculty member in the College of Education at the University of Maryland for ten years. Her teaching and research interests include preparing teachers to be culturally competent, successful literacy instruction for children in low-income immigrant communities, and the immigration and acculturation experiences of Ethiopian-Israelis. She created several innovative courses while at UMD, including a short-term education abroad program in Israel and courses that explored racism and antisemitism in literature, film, and the media. Melissa earned her B.A in English from Oberlin College, her M.A. in early childhood and applied development theory from Tufts University, and her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Maryland. An adaptation of her dissertation was recently published by Rowman and Littlefield, titled Early Childhood Literacy Teachers in High Poverty Schools: A Study of Courage and Caring. Melissa is the President of the Oberlin Chapter of Alums for Campus Fairness and has written several essays opposing BDS for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. Her essay on antisemitism in academia will appear in a book being published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
Executive Assistant: Brad Isakson
Brad Isakson is a 2016 graduate of Michigan State University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations and History with a minor in Jewish Studies. During his undergrad he interned in the MSU Jewish Studies Program, where he helped organize the Program’s first two Forums on Anti-Semitism which aimed to raise awareness about issues of anti-Semitism on the MSU campus. The subject of anti-Semitism on university campuses became the focus of Brad’s senior research thesis, for which he earned invitations to present his findings before faculty and students. He has studied abroad in Israel, worked as a legislative intern in the State of Michigan House of Representatives, and worked as a student financial advisor in MSU’s financial aid office.
Gabriella Blum, Harvard University
Gabriella Blum is the Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School, specializing in public international law, international negotiations, the law of armed conflict, and counterterrorism. She is also the Faculty Director of the Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (PILAC) and a member of the Program on Negotiation Executive Board. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty in fall 2005, Blum served for seven years as a Senior Legal Advisor in the International Law Department of the Military Advocate General’s Corps in the Israel Defense Forces, and for another year, as a Strategy Advisor to the Israeli National Security Council. Blum is a graduate of Tel-Aviv University and of Harvard Law School. Blum is the author of Islands of Agreement: Managing Enduring Armed Rivalries (2007), and of the forthcoming co-authored book (with Philip Heymann), The No-Law War: Lessons from the War on Terror as well as of several journal articles on international law and the laws of war.
Jeff Brown, University of Illinois
Jeff Brown is the Josef and Margot Lakonishok Professor in Business and Dean of the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois. As Dean, he launched the world’s first MOOC-based iMBA degree in partnership Coursera, secured a $150 million naming gift for the Gies College of Business, and repositioned the College as a leader in the teaching and practice of innovation. A member of the Illinois faculty since 2002, Brown previously served on the faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School, as an economist on the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, with the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and as a member of the Social Security Advisory Board. Brown is the Director of the Retirement Research Center at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University, an MPP from Harvard, and a PhD in economics from MIT. He has published extensively on public and private retirement systems, insurance markets, and household financial behavior.
Scott S. Cowen, Tulane University
Scott S. Cowen is President Emeritus and Distinguished University Chair of Tulane University. Cowen served as Tulane’s 14th president from 1998 to 2014, during which he led Tulane through Hurricane Katrina and was appointed to the city’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission. TIME magazine named Cowen one of the nation’s Top 10 Best College Presidents and, in 2009, he received the Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award. In 2010, Cowen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Cowen has served as chair of the Association of American Universities and received the 2014 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education. Prior to Tulane, Cowen was a professor at Case Western Reserve University for 23 years, serving as dean of the Weatherhead School of Management for 14 years. Cowen’s areas of scholarship and teaching focus on strategic financial management systems, corporate governance and leadership.
Larry Diamond, Stanford University
Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Diamond is also the Peter E. Haas Faculty Co-Director of the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. He is the founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy and is Senior Consultant at the International Forum for Democratic Studies of the National Endowment for Democracy. He was consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development and has also advised and lectured to the World Bank, the United Nations, the State Department, and other governmental and nongovernmental agencies. At Stanford University, Diamond is also professor by courtesy of political science and sociology. In 2007, he was named “Teacher of the Year” by the Associated Students of Stanford University for teaching that “transcends political and ideological barriers,” and was honored by Stanford University with the Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education.
David Ellenson, Brandeis University
Rabbi David Ellenson is currently Director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, where he is also Visiting Professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Before this, Ellenson served from 2001-2013 as the 8th president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), and is now chancellor emeritus. Holding a doctorate from Columbia University, he has been a Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Studies as a well as a Lady Davis Visiting Professor of the Humanities at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ellenson is an internationally renowned scholar of modern Judaism, and has authored six books and hundreds of articles on American Jewish life, modern Jewish religious movements, religious tolerance in the Jewish state, and many modern social issues. Ellenson’s After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity won the 2005 National Jewish Book Council’s Award for most outstanding book in Jewish thought. His most recent book is Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice, published in 2014.
William E. (Brit) Kirwan, University of Maryland
Brit Kirwan is Chancellor Emeritus of the University System of Maryland, serving as chancellor from 2002 to 2015. Prior to that position, he was the 12th president of the Ohio State University and 26th president of University of Maryland, College Park where he was also professor, provost and chair of the mathematics department. Brit is a nationally recognized authority on critical issues in higher education and speaks on a wide range of topics, including diversity, access and affordability, cost containment, economic impact, gender equity, financial aid and innovation. He is past board chair of numerous higher education associations, including the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the American Council for Education, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. Kirwan was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He has received many recognitions and awards for his excellent leadership and impact on undergraduate education through his 50 years of service including the Maryland Business and Civic Leadership Hall of Fame, the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership, and the Carnegie Corporation Leadership Award.
Roger D. Kornberg, Stanford University
Roger Kornberg is the Mrs. George A. Winzer Professor in Medicine at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In 2006, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discoveries related to how genetic information stored in DNA is processed by the cell’s internal machinery; the conversion, or transcription, of DNA into RNA underlies all aspects of cellular metabolism. His father Arthur Kornberg had received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1959. Kornberg has garnered numerous other awards, including the Le Grand Prix Charles-Leopold Mayer from the Académie des Sciences, France (2002), the Pasarow Award in Cancer Research (2003), the University of Pittsburgh’s Dickson Prize in Medicine (2006), Columbia University’s Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (2006), the Pauling Legacy Award (2010), and Harvard University’s Frank Westheimer Prize (2011). He holds several honorary degrees from universities worldwide, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Beijing University, and the University of Regensburg. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Deborah E. Lipstadt, Emory University
Deborah Lipstadt is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University. She there established and directed the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies and received the Emory Williams Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching. Her book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (1993), the first monographic treatment of the subject, received simultaneous front-page reviews in The New York Times and The Washington Post. When sued for libel in British court by the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving, she grounded her defense in proving the historical truth of Hitler’s genocidal murder of six million European Jews during World War II. Her story History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (2006) won the National Book Award. Her most recent book, The Eichmann Trial (2011), garnered widespread interest and praise. She was also appointed by the Clinton administration to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, where she served two terms. She is a graduate of the City College of New York, and received her MA and PhD from Brandeis University.
Rachel F. Moran, University of California Los Angeles
Rachel F. Moran is the Dean Emerita and Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. Prior to her appointment at UCLA, Professor Moran was the Robert D. and Leslie-Kay Raven Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she taught for twenty-five years and received the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Moran has also served at UC Berkeley as Chair of the Chicano/Latino Policy Project at its Institute for the Study of Social Change and as the Institute’s director. She was the first Latina dean of a top-ranked U.S. law school as well as UC Berkeley’s first Latina law professor. From July 2008 to June 2010, Moran served as a founding faculty member of the UC Irvine Law School. In 2009, Dean Moran was appointed as President of the Association of American Law Schools, and two years later was nominated by President Obama to the Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise, which maintains the official history of the U.S. Supreme Court. In August 2015, she became the inaugural William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law at the American Bar Foundation, where she is co-directing a national research initiative on “The Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility” with Robert L. Nelson. In 2017, she was appointed the Austin Wakeman Scott Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
Geri D. Palast, Israel Action Network
Geri D. Palast is the Executive Director of the Israel Action Network (IAN), an initiative of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), created to counter the assault on Israel’s legitimacy. She is a graduate of Stanford University and of New York University Law School, and has had a rich and diverse career, including extensive experience organizing and leading broad-based national grassroots and legislative issue campaigns. From 1993-2000, she served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs during the Clinton Administration. Previously, she was national Legislative and Political Director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). In addition to her recent work as founding director of IAN, she also has founded and led three NGOs on school finance reform to ensure adequate funding for poor children, justice system reform, and employment issues for low wage workers and at-risk youth.
Steven Pinker, Harvard University
Steven Pinker is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His research on language and cognition has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the American Psychological Association, and the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. He has also received several teaching awards and many prizes for his ten books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Better Angels of Our Nature. He has been named Humanist of the Year, and has been listed among Foreign Policy magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is currently Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, Time, The New Republic, and other publications. His most recent book is The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
Daniel B. Rodriguez, Northwestern University
Daniel Rodriguez is Dean and Harold Washington Professor at Northwestern University School of Law. A nationally prominent law teacher and scholar, Rodriguez’s principal academic work is in the areas of administrative law, local government law, and constitutional law. He also has a special interest in the law-business-technology interface and its impact on the future of legal education. He is a leader in the application of political economy to the study of public law. Dean Rodriguez has served as President of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and is currently serving as a council member of the American Law Institute, He is also a member of the newly created American Bar Association Commission on the Future of Legal Services and serves on the Board of Directors of the American Bar Foundation. Prior to joining Northwestern Law, Rodriguez was Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law at the University of Texas-Austin, Dean and Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law, and, Professor of Law at University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall.
Ricardo Romo, University of Texas at San Antonio
Ricardo Romo served as the fifth president of the University of Texas at San Antonio from 1999 to 2017. Under his leadership, UTSA grew in student enrollment, academic programs, and research facilities, and been recognized as an emerging Tier One research institution. Romo has received numerous awards for his contributions to higher education and social justice: the San Antonio North Chamber Gov. Dolphin Briscoe Salute to Excellence Award (2010); the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Chief Executive Leadership Award (2011); the Colonel W.T. Bondurant Sr. Distinguished Humanitarian Award (2012); the Clark Kerr Award for Distinguished Leadership in Higher Education (2013); the Wheaton College Otis Social Justice Award (2013). In May 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Romo to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Romo attended the University of Texas at Austin on a track scholarship and earned his PhD in History at The University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio (1983).
Donna Shalala, University of Miami
Donna E. Shalala is the Trustee Professor of Political Science and Health Policy at the University of Miami, having previously served as President from 2001-2015. She is a board member and former president and CEO of the Clinton Foundation, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She served as president of Hunter College of CUNY from 1980 to 1987, and as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1987 to 1993. In 1993, President Clinton nominated Shalala as Secretary for Health and Human Services (HHS), where she served for eight years. In 2008, President Bush presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. In 2010, she received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights recognizing her dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally.
Steven Davidoff Solomon, University of California-Berkeley
Steven Davidoff Solomon is professor of law at UC-Berkeley and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy. The National Association of Corporate Directors has three times named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the United States corporate boardroom community.
Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University
Lawrence H. Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus of Harvard University. A former Secretary of the Treasury of the U.S., he has served over the past two decades in a series of senior policy positions, including Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist of the World Bank, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Internal Affairs, and, from 2009–11, Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration. In 1983, Summers became one of the youngest individuals in recent history to be named as a tenured member of the Harvard University faculty, and in 1987 he became the first social scientist to receive the Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation. Summers was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal for his work as an outstanding American economist under the age of 40 in 1993.
H. Patrick Swygert, Howard University
H. Patrick Swygert served as President of Howard University from 1995 to 2008. He is currently President Emeritus and professor of law at Howard, where he earned undergraduate and law degrees. Mr. Swygert also was president of the University at Albany-State University of New York from 1990-1995, Before that, he was a faculty member at Temple University Law School and subsequently held positions as executive vice president, vice president for university administration, and special counsel to the president. Mr. Swygert taught as a visiting professor at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law during several summers from 1982 to 1990. He also was a visiting professor of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana. He has lectured in Cairo, Athens, and Rome. He is the author of numerous articles and publications in higher education and law.
Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, George Washington University
Stephen Trachtenberg served as the 15th president of George Washington University from 1988 to 2007, and is now President Emeritus and University Professor of Public Service. Trachtenberg came to George Washington from the University of Hartford, where he served as president for eleven years. His views on issues pertaining to higher education are widely published internationally. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the American Bar Foundation, and the National Academy of Public Administration. Trachtenberg has served in several government positions, including attorney with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, legislative aide to former Indiana Congressman John Brademas, and special assistant to the U.S. Education Commissioner. In addition, Trachtenberg has also served on the Rhodes Scholarships Selection Committee for Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia and as chair of the White House Fellows Selection Panel. Trachtenberg was awarded the Open Forum Distinguished Public Service Award by the Secretary of State and received the Department of Treasury Medal of Merit. His most recent book on the university presidency will soon be released by the John’s Hopkins University Press.
Mark G. Yudof, University of California (Chair)