University President Richard Levin and economics professor Gustav Ranis will represent Yale at a forum tonight and Wednesday in New York featuring United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and the presidents and faculty members from about 20 other universities worldwide.
The first annual Global Colloquium of University Presidents is designed to create networks that will allow university presidents to exchange ideas and scholars to provide support for the United Nations, said organizer Michael Doyle, a professor at Columbia University, which is hosting the forum. The professors from each institution will discuss strategies for cooperation in global migration while the university presidents will discuss the academic freedom of educational institutions.
“It is designed in order to come up with ideas the presidents can find useful in the management of their own universities and promote the ideas the secretary general might find helpful,” said Doyle, a former advisor to Annan at the United Nations.
Yale has sent delegations of administrators and faculty to several countries in recent years, and Levin said Yale is already connected to a majority of the universities that will attend the forum. But he said he is looking forward to interacting with his counterparts from across the world.
“It’s helpful that the UN is bringing a group together and providing an opportunity to interact with presidents of international universities,” Levin said.
Besides Yale and Columbia, Princeton University, New York University and the University of Pennsylvania are the forum’s only United States participants.
NYU professor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco said he is excited to participate in the initiative because, unlike previous events he has attended, it will bring together an international array of both university administrators and scholars.
“[It involves] a number of brilliant scholars from around the world,” Suarez-Orozco said.
United Nations spokesman Farhan Haq said Annan will participate in several sessions at the conference and is interested in discussing recommendations from a recent UN report concerning ways to reform UN policies on terrorism and weapons.
“The secretary general always looks forward to hearing ideas from all walks of life,” Haq said. “In particular, he values the insight of members of the academy and he hopes they will provide ideas on how to go about reforming the UN.”
Ranis, an expert on developing countries and the former director of the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, said he will discuss how countries experiencing population changes can maximize their benefits and reduce their costs.
Levin noted that all eight of the University’s partners in its Fox International Fellowship program, including Oxford University and India’s Jawarhalal Nehru University in Delhi, have been invited to attend the forum.
“These are all very respectable universities,” Ranis said. “That just shows we made a good choice on the Fox Fellowships.”