The School of Law of the University of Leipzig has bestowed an Honorary Doctorate upon Professor Richard L. Williamson Jr., a former Associate Dean at Miami Law and Chair of the Faculty Senate. The degree is in tribute to his "outstanding dedication to the development of joint projects between Miami Law and the School of Law of the University of Leipzig and his longstanding commitment to the Miami-Leipzig Seminar," the German institution said in a statement.
"I'm delighted and surprised," Professor Williamson said after hearing the news. "Leipzig University is the second oldest in Germany, having recently celebrated its 600th anniversary. Its former students and faculty are a virtual Who's Who of German letters and science. While the university was weakened during Nazi and Communist rule, it has since made wonderful progress. I'm glad I've been able to contribute to our very beneficial mutual exchange program."
The seminar was inspired by a longstanding tradition of U.S.-German friendship and scholarly exchange. The first exchange between Miami Law and the University of Leipzig took place in 2001 at Leipzig, when Professor Williamson was a Fulbright Professor there. Although the U.S. and Germany share fundamental ideas of freedom and democracy as well as civil and human rights, the two countries' legal systems and societies are significantly different. The program has been expanded to include sessions at both locations every year and invariably receives rave reviews from its participants.
The degree will be conferred during a special event during the 2013 Miami-Leipzig Seminar, next spring on the German campus.
"An Honorary Doctorate is the highest honor our institution can bestow," wrote Dr. Christian Berger, Dean of the School of Law at Leipzig. He wrote of Professor Williamson having developed the seminar as a "leading international project" alongside Leipzig, "establishing not only a vibrant international exchange between the student bodies of both law schools but also leading to a mutually beneficial learning experience invaluable for students and faculty members as well."
Professor Williamson has served as a Foreign Service Officer of the U.S. State Department, as counselor and executive director of the American Foreign Service Association, and as division chief of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Prior to coming to Miami Law, he was an attorney with Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton. After serving as Associate Dean from 1997-2000, he was on leave under a Fulbright grant to teach law in Leipzig. Professor Williamson teaches introductory and advanced courses in environmental law, alternative dispute resolution, and courses and seminars on international law topics, including public international law, arms control and international environmental law.