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Ruth Okediji Named Faculty Director of the Center for African Studies

Harvard Law School professor Ruth L. Okediji was named the faculty director of the Center for African Studies.
Harvard Law School professor Ruth L. Okediji was named the faculty director of the Center for African Studies. By Courtesy of Ruth L. Okediji
By Leah J. Lourenco, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Law School professor Ruth L. Okediji will serve as the faculty director of the University’s Center for African Studies, the center announced earlier this month.

Okediji’s research has focused on intellectual property research, particularly the impact of intellectual property policy on developing countries. Okediji’s work has impacted government policy in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and South America.

William W. Fisher, a professor of intellectual property law at the Law School who taught Okediji during her time as a student at HLS, wrote in an email that he believes she is the “perfect choice for the position.”

“Prof. Okediji is brilliant, has a deep knowledge of Africa, is adept at managing people, and has a very strong moral compass,” Fisher wrote.

Nthatisi Quella, the office director for the center’s Africa Office in Johannesburg, South Africa, wrote that Okediji’s appointment “is met with much gratitude and excitement.”

The Center for African Studies connects Africanist scholars and offers a variety of academic and professional opportunities including internships, research projects, study-abroad programs, and technology-based outreach endeavors.

“We are privileged to have her lead the Center in the period when CAS is implementing programming in the Africa Office to deepen engagement in Africa and create research opportunities for the mutual benefit of the continent and Harvard faculty and students,” Quella wrote.

African and African American Studies professor Suzanne P. Blier wrote in an email that she is “delighted to hear of Ruth Okediji’s selection to be the next Director of the Center for African Studies.”

“Not only is she a distinguished legal scholar and Africanist, but she also addresses in her work some of the most important issues facing Africa and globally — questions around intellectual property, copyright, and AI among other concerns,” she wrote.

Quella commended the outgoing faculty director, History and African and African American Studies professor Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, on raising the center’s profile and expanding its offerings — adding that she is optimistic about Okediji’s leadership.

“With her professional excellence and broad experience, we look forward to Professor Okediji taking the Center to the next heights and helping to grow the Center’s Africa Office,” Quella wrote.

—Staff writer Leah J. Lourenco can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Leah_Lourenco.

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