J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, Harvard Law School
No tribute, short or long, could adequately recount William Alford’s virtues and contributions. As his international law colleague and graduate committee member since I joined this faculty, I will emphasize here a few of the aspects I have often witnessed and admired: Bill’s intellectual rigor, his compassion, his generosity, and his graciousness. These are not separable elements of his personality and conduct, but intertwined in his integrity.
Our most frequent occasions of interaction have involved the graduate program to which Bill has given inspiring leadership over all this time. Bill has made the annual meeting on doctoral program admissions one of the intellectual highlights of the academic year, with deeply substantive and highly collegial deliberations encompassing the diversity of methodologies represented on the faculty. The quality of our admissions has been strongly facilitated by Bill’s committed and tireless fundraising efforts on behalf of our graduate students. His shepherding of the program also draws on his diplomatic skills in dealing with some less virtuous HLS colleagues. Bill’s clear-sighted judgment of politics, on both the small and large scales, has been invaluable.
The erudition and insight that elevate Bill’s academic writing and teaching, as well as his leadership on disability issues, also greatly enrich the life of the faculty. He carefully critiques the writings of colleagues and he engages in generous, but demanding discussion with a range of visiting scholars.
Fortunately for us, as Bill decreases his administrative role, he is continuing to share his wisdom. As we can see, the world continues to need it.