Law Prof Receives NEH Medal

President awards Glendon for work in human rights and constitutional law

President Bush awarded a Harvard Law School (HLS) professor with the National Humanities Medal at a ceremony at the White House last month.

Mary Ann Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law, was one of eleven individuals honored by Bush and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Originally called the Charles Frankel Prize, the National Humanities Medal is awarded annually to “individuals and organizations whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand America’s access to important humanities resources,” according to the NEH website.

Glendon said she was grateful for the honor.

“It was a delight to be able to introduce my family to the President” she wrote in an e-mail.

Professor Glendon’s work has played a major role in science and law in both the United States and abroad. She lectures and writes in the fields of human rights, comparative law, constitutional law, and legal theory, according to the NEH website.

Although currently at HLS, Glendon is no stranger to Washington, having served on the President’s Council on Bioethics for four years.

She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and International Academy of Comparative Law and has served as president of the UNESCO-sponsored International Association of Legal Science. Appointed by Pope John Paul II, Glendon is president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

When asked how she views her field of work in light of today’s international conflict, Glendon said that the humanities and arts are too significant to be dismissed even when the United States is in a time of war.

“I think we Americans like to see our President and First Lady honoring the arts and letters—perhaps because these ceremonies symbolize their understanding that the maintenance of a free and democratic society requires a certain cultural ecology,” wrote Glendon.

The President honored Martin and Glendon, along with an eclectic assembly of historians, writers, teachers, lawyers, and investors. The NEH also awarded a medal to a project headed by the University of Virginia that compiled all correspondence to and from America’s first president called The Papers of George Washington.

Glendon expressed her reservations about receiving the award in the presence of a less famous albeit equally intimidating figure who attended the ceremony.

“I must confess that most of us medalists were a little nervous about the prospect of participating in a formal state occasion under the watchful eye of our fellow honoree Judith Martin (Miss Manners)!” wrote Glendon.

Martin, or Miss Manners as she is known in her syndicated Washington Post column, is considered a foremost authority on etiquette and politeness.