Campus & Community

Schauer appointed director of Safra Foundation Center

5 min read

Interim President Derek Bok announced today (April 5) that Frederick Schauer, Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at the Kennedy School of Government, has been appointed director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.

Bok said of the appointment, “Fred Schauer is one of the country’s outstanding scholars of free speech, constitutional law, and the philosophy of law. And he has been an extraordinarily capable and far-sighted institutional leader. The Safra Center is one of the jewels in Harvard’s crown, and it deserves a director of Fred’s stature. I believe Fred will build on and extend the center’s remarkable success in developing the field of ethics both here at Harvard and across academe.”

Schauer succeeds Dennis F. Thompson as director. Thompson is the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy. He founded the center in 1987 and has served as its director since then. Thompson announced in November that he would step down at the end of the academic year.

Schauer said, “Dennis Thompson has created a remarkable program that serves not only to foster serious scholarship about ethics, and not only as an extraordinarily successful cross-School collaborative enterprise in moral, political, and legal philosophy, but has also done an enormous amount to encourage serious academic research and teaching about practical and professional ethics far beyond Harvard and far beyond the academy. It is an honor to be selected to succeed him, and I hope to justify his and Derek Bok’s confidence in me by trying to reinforce such a successful foundation and to help the center move into new activities and directions.”

The Safra Center encourages teaching and research about ethical issues in public and professional life; helps meet the growing need for teachers and scholars who address questions of moral choice in the professions and in the public arena; brings together those with competence in philosophical thought and those with experience in professional education; and promotes a perspective on ethics and morality informed by both theory and practice.

Thompson applauded Schauer’s appointment. “The center’s future could not be in better hands,” he said. “Fred is a distinguished scholar and outstanding teacher with broad interests in both theoretical and practical ethics. I am confident that he will not only maintain the center’s high intellectual standards but also advance its mission in new and creative ways. I look forward to watching, and at least occasionally participating, as Fred deploys his remarkable talents to lead the center vigorously into its third decade.”

David T. Ellwood, dean of the Kennedy School, was also enthusiastic. “Fred Schauer is a man of great intellect, vision, and principle,” he said. “Through his work on the First Amendment and his previous service as academic dean at the Kennedy School, Fred brings a deep and practical understanding of ethics in a professional setting. The University will be well-served to have him in this role.”

Schauer has taught at Harvard since 1990. He served as academic dean of the Kennedy School from 1997 to 2002 and as the School’s acting dean in spring 2001. In addition to teaching courses in ethics and in the legal dimensions of international development at the Kennedy School, Schauer is a regular teacher of evidence and of freedom of speech at the Harvard Law School, where he also supervises graduate students working in the philosophy of law. Before coming to Harvard, Schauer was professor of law at the University of Michigan, and he has been visiting professor at the law schools of the University of Chicago, the University of Virginia, and the University of Toronto, as well as in the philosophy and government departments at Dartmouth College.

Schauer is the author of “The Law of Obscenity,” “Free Speech: A Philosophical Enquiry,” and “Playing By the Rules: A Philosophical Examination of Rule-Based Decision-Making in Law and in Life.” He is co-editor of “The Philosophy of Law: Classic and Contemporary Readings with Commentary” and “The First Amendment: A Reader.” His most recent book, “Profiles, Probabilities, and Stereotypes,” was published by the Harvard University Press (Belknap Press) in November 2003.

Schauer has been vice president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy and chair of the Committee on Philosophy and Law of the American Philosophical Association, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He co-founded the journal Legal Theory and has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and Radcliffe Fellowship. Schauer is a 1967 graduate of Dartmouth College, a 1968 graduate of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth, and a 1972 graduate of the Harvard Law School.

Schauer will take up his duties as director on July 1, 2008. He will be the George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford University and a Professorial Fellow of Balliol College during the 2007-08 academic year. Arthur Applbaum, professor of ethics and public policy at the Kennedy School, will serve as acting director in the interim. Thompson said of Applbaum: “Arthur started and directed our excellent graduate fellowship program, and served superbly as acting director in the past. We are most fortunate that he will be leading the Center next year.”