Vanderbilt’s Expansive Reach

I first came to Vanderbilt as a visiting professor for the fall 2001 semester—the last year Jonathan Charney, who helped Vanderbilt’s international law program gain national prominence, taught before his untimely death. Vanderbilt’s other renowned international scholar, Harold G. Maier, was my colleague until his retirement in 2006. Jon had taught at Vanderbilt since 1972; Hal joined the faculty in 1965 and established the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law in 1967. I know both would be proud of Vanderbilt’s excellent International Legal Studies Program—their legacy and the subject of our cover story in this issue of Vanderbilt Law.

Ingrid Wuerth, who directs the program, is the inaugural holder of the Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law, endowed by a significant estate gift from pioneering international lawyer Jean Curry Allen (BA’44). Curry named the chair in honor of her mother and also established the Helen Strong Curry International Law Scholarship, to be awarded each year to a deserving first-year student who plans a career in international law. Samantha Sergent ’19 became our first Helen Strong Curry International Law Scholar this spring. She and Rachel Johnson ’18, who holds our Raymonde I. Paul International Law Scholarship—established in 1981—are beneficiaries of scholarships endowed specifically to support students who plan careers in international law.

This issue of Vanderbilt Law highlights the expansive reach of our International Legal Studies Program, its impressive core faculty—two of whom have published significant books this year—and alumni whose careers demonstrate the many ways a Vanderbilt legal education prepares students to succeed in an increasingly global environment.

The 2017 Jonathan I. Charney Distinguished Lecture in International Law—established in memory of former law professor Jonathan Charney by his family, and supported by many friends and colleagues—was delivered by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner of human rights. I’m deeply grateful for both new and longstanding endowments and gifts that allow us to bring world leaders to Vanderbilt to speak to and meet our students—and to attract and retain excellent faculty and recruit outstanding students.

I was extremely proud last year when the University of Chicago Press published Morgan Ricks’ book, The Money Problem: Rethinking Financial Regulation, in which he proposes a practical blueprint for a modernized system of money and banking. On May 4, Jim Cuminale ’78, who serves on our Board of Advisors, graciously hosted a reception at the New York Yacht Club where Morgan discussed his book with alumni and friends.

Any year in which a single faculty member publishes an important book is a good one. So you can imagine my excitement when influential books by three Vanderbilt Law professors—Daniel Gervais, Ganesh Sitaraman and Daniel Sharfstein—were released this spring. Professor Gervais’ book advances a bold proposal for simplifying and reforming international copyright law. Professor Sitaraman’s book, The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, is an erudite analysis of the effect of income inequality on our system of government. A review of it by Nobel Prize-winning economist Angus Deaton appeared on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. Professor Sharfstein’s book, Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War, examines Reconstruction through the relationship between a Nez Perce leader and a Union army general. It was also featured in The New York Times Book Review as a new and notable book. Please add these books to your reading list and enjoy the articles about these books in this issue.

As always, thanks for your support of and interest in our thriving law school.

Sincerely yours,


Chris Guthrie

Dean and John Wade–Kent Syverud Professor of Law

Summer 2017 Vanderbilt Law Magazine