Scott G. Nichols
Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Affairs (HLS 1986-2006)
When the modern history of Harvard Law School is written, Bill Alford will be joining the pantheon of greats of HLS. Few have shaped and reshaped the School as Bill has done.
I had the good fortune of arriving at HLS about the same time as Bill. Like so many young professors, he was filling the shoes of a legend, Jerry Cohen. It quickly became apparent Bill would not just replace a giant but would shape the School, International Legal Studies and Asian legal scholarship in new, bold, and dramatic ways. ILS had earlier been a subset of HLS programs. Patiently, methodically, Bill convinced faculty, students and administrators that ILS was a core program that was central to everyone.
During Bill’s time, the outreach of the Law School exploded. Deans made it a high priority. International alumni were welcomed into the life of the School. Student interest grew geometrically. Curricular offerings added scores of courses in general international and regional legal studies. Bill was essential to the creation and prospering of the Islamic Legal Studies Center, the International Human Rights Program and the International Financial Studies Center, to name a few.
During those years of growth and expansion, I had the pleasure of traveling the globe with Bill in a world-wide trek to build alumni networks and seek financial support for these endeavors. It was a privilege to see how Bill was cherished and respected by so many around the world. His reputation was sterling and it was impressive to be at his side, whether visiting with the Speaker of the Japanese Diet, a Thai princess, or Korean Supreme Court Justices. I had the rare advantage of benefitting from his teaching for 20 years.
Yet of all his professional and scholarly accomplishments, Bill is valued mostly by me as simply a magnificent person. His many kindnesses to all, his selfless perspective, his endless courtesy and decency define him as one of the extraordinarily special people on the planet. Not to mention his contributions to the Special Olympics.
Bill is truly someone to celebrate.