Professors Gerken and Whitman Elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, has elected J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law Heather K. Gerken and Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law James Q. Whitman ‘88 to its 2017 Class of Members. Professor Gerken is an expert in constitutional law and election law; Professor Whitman is an expert in comparative law and legal history.

The newly announced class includes some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business, and philanthropic leaders. The list of the 237th class of new members is located here.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences is one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing—and opportunities available to—the nation and the world. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts, and education; and American institutions and the public good.

Members of the 2017 Class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners.

“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the Academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service,” said Academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. “Through our projects, publications, and events, the Academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the Academy’s 1780 charter calls.”

Professor Gerken is one of the country’s leading experts on constitutional law and election law, and a founder of the “nationalist school” of federalism. At Yale, she founded and runs the country’s most innovative clinic in local government law, the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project. Professor Gerken has been teaching at Yale Law School since 2006 and became the inaugural J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law in 2008. Professor Gerken served as a senior advisor to the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012. In 2013, her proposal for creating a “Democracy Index”—a national ranking of election systems—was adopted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which created the nation’s first Election Performance Index. She holds degrees from Princeton (A.B.) and the University of Michigan Law School (J.D.). Professor Gerken will assume the deanship of Yale Law School on July 1, 2017.

Professor Whitman has been a professor of law at Yale since 1994 and since 1996 has been the Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law. His major fields of teaching and research are comparative law, conflict of laws, criminal law, and comparative legal history. He has received numerous awards for his work, including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and the John Merryman Senior Scholar Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the American Society of Comparative Law. Professor Whitman holds degrees from Yale University (B.A. and J.D.), Columbia (M.A. in European History), and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. in Intellectual History). His most recent book is Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 7, 2017, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.