HLS Prof To Leave Harvard for NYU

Harvard Law School professor Ryan Goodman will depart for New York University this fall, NYU officials announced yesterday.

Goodman, who specializes in international law, has taught at Harvard since 2002, and received tenure in 2006. He currently serves as the director of the Law School’s Human Rights Program, and co-taught a workshop on international law with Law School professor William P. Alford last semester.

“He’s been a wonderful colleague in addition to being a very distinguished scholar and a very accomplished teacher, and I’m sorry to see him go,” Alford said, adding that they would remain colleagues and friends even after Goodman’s move south.

Goodman, who received both a Ph.D in sociology and a JD from Yale, conducts research on patterns in the development of legal institutions around the world, integrating sociological and legal analysis approaches.

At NYU, Goodman will assume a full professorship at the law school, and will also be affiliated with the sociology and politics departments.

Goodman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Alford said that although Goodman would be a loss to the Law School, his colleagues would continue to produce strong scholarship in the field, since Harvard had built a strong contingent of international law scholars during the tenure of Law School dean Elena Kagan.

“We have probably the most intellectually diverse group of faculty in the United States working on international and comparative law issues, with all kinds of different viewpoints,” Alford said. “Once in a while, someone chooses to go elsewhere.”

During the few years he spent at the Law School, Goodman encouraged study on national human rights institutions and on the relationship between medical professionals and human rights, said Mindy J. Roseman, academic director of the Human Rights Program.

“When he came, he had a certain vision for the program that we worked together to implement,” she said.

Goodman’s departure marks one of the rare instances of tenured professors leaving the Law School in recent years—the hiring frenzy in the past five years has seen Harvard poach more than a few distinguished legal scholars from rival institutions, including NYU.

But NYU has also embarked upon an ambitious faculty recruitment campaign, hiring almost 20 full professors away from other law schools since 2004.

Several professors at the Law School said that Goodman chose to relocate largely because of his and his family’s preference to live in New York, rather than the Boston area.

In addition to boasting a roster of international law stars, NYU has the attraction of being situated near the United Nations and Wall Street, both of which provide ample opportunities to study globally relevant issues, Alford said.

As a result, he said, he was not surprised that Goodman had received an offer to continue his scholarship in what may be the country’s most internationally diverse city.

“[Goodman]’s been in great demand, and he’s very highly regarded,” he said. “A number of institutions would love to have him on their faculty.”

—Staff writer Athena Y. Jiang can be reached at