Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 will likely be the new director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, a senior faculty member said yesterday.
Zedillo has been offered the post and came for a campus visit three weeks ago, faculty and administrative sources confirmed. If the deal is finalized, Zedillo would replace departing director Strobe Talbott ’68 at the end of the year.
Representatives from Zedillo’s office in Mexico and the Mexican consulate in New York City did not return phone calls or e-mails yesterday, and Yale President Richard Levin declined to comment. Levin is scheduled to travel to Mexico during reading week, but would not specify his agenda.
Zedillo, the president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000, received an honorary degree from Yale last May.
Several faculty members expressed enthusiasm at the possibility of Zedillo coming to Yale.
Political science professor Charles Hill said he thinks Zedillo, if appointed, would be a strong replacement for Talbott.
“[Zedillo] is a superb individual,” Hill said. “It would be great to have someone from the United States as great as Strobe Talbott, but Zedillo’s a true figure of globalization and has instant name recognition around the world.”
If Zedillo moves to New Haven, he would be the second director in the center’s brief history. Talbott, the deputy secretary of state during the Clinton presidency, arrived last summer to launch the globalization center. But after less than a year at Yale, Talbott announced in January that he will leave the center to lead the Brookings Institution, one of the nation’s oldest public policy research institutions.
During Talbott’s time at Yale, professors said there were some tensions between Talbott and the University because he was a policy-maker and not an academic. But such tensions may be lifted if Zedillo is appointed, a senior faculty member said.
“If this is, in fact, what happens, then [Zedillo] will present a very unusual combination of academic background and real political achievement and knowledge,” the professor said. “I think it has terrific possibilities.”
Law professor Daniel Esty, who advised Levin in the search for a new director, said the University had a wide range of choices as it worked to fill the post.
“There was extremely top-tier talent from across the country and the world who saw this as an opportunity that was unmatched in terms of a platform from which to shape issues that affect the globe,” Esty said.
Although Esty would not comment on the status of the search, he said Zedillo was a “very interesting prospect” for the position.
Princeton University professor Richard Ullman said Talbott’s resignation made him skeptical about the future of Yale’s globalization center, but added that bringing Zedillo in would give the center a solid grounding for the future. Ullman is the acting director of the Center of International Studies at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
“I think it restores possibility,” Ullman. “It shows that Yale is serious about constructing the institute, and I think it may be a wise choice for Yale.”
While the University may be close to finding a successor for Talbott, there has not been a search to replace Talbott’s wife, Brooke Shearer. Shearer is the executive director of the World Fellows program, which was created at the same time as the globalization center. Esty, the director of the program, said the University would begin a search within a few months.