Rebecca French Named to Head Baldy Center at UB Law School

By Ilene Fleischmann

Release Date: July 18, 2008 This content is archived.


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Rebecca French has been named director of the UB Law School's Baldy Center.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo Law Professor Rebecca Redwood French, a Roger and Karen Jones Faculty Scholar, has been named director of the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy at the UB Law School, Dean Makau W. Mutua announced today.

An international authority in law and anthropology, French has done landmark research on the Buddhist legal system of Tibet.

French's appointment takes effect Aug. 16. She succeeds Lynn Mather, UB professor of law and political science and a distinguished scholar in the area of law and the courts, who came from Dartmouth College to Buffalo to head the Baldy Center in 2002.

The Baldy Center is an endowed, internationally recognized institute that supports the interdisciplinary study of law and social institutions. More than 100 UB faculty members from 17 academic departments participate in Baldy Center research, conference and scholarship activities, as do an increasing number of graduate students. The center maintains cooperative ties to other interdisciplinary research centers and co-sponsors a regional network of socio-legal scholars in New York State and Canada. The Baldy Center also hosts distinguished scholars from around the world as visitors, speakers and conference participants.

"I am delighted that Rebecca French has agreed to lead this crucial component of the Law School's research mission," Mutua said. "Her experience in studying comparative law and her enthusiasm for the possibilities of interdisciplinary approaches to the law can only strengthen the unique mission of the Baldy Center at the University at Buffalo and beyond. As we continue to enhance UB Law School's academic reputation nationally and internationally, the Baldy Center will play an important part in our continued success."

French joined the UB Law School from the University of Colorado School of Law, where she conducted the research for her groundbreaking book "The Golden Yoke: The Legal Cosmology of Buddhist Tibet." The project was an outgrowth of her interest in Asian legal systems and her experience at Yale University, where she earned both a Master of Laws degree and a doctorate in anthropology. A philosophy major as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, she earned her J.D. degree from the University of Washington Law School. She served for three years as a public defender and for four years in general practice in the Pacific Northwest.

French has spent time in India doing research on Buddhism and the law in the Tibetan community there. As an expert in Tibetan law, she has spearheaded the development of the new discipline of Law and Buddhism and has organized the first international conferences and working groups in this area.

French was instrumental in bringing the Dalai Lama, the exiled religious leader of the Tibetan Buddhist community, for a much-heralded visit to UB Law School in September 2006 for the first discussion and conference with the Dalai Lama on Law, Buddhism and Social Change. Cambridge University Press next year will publish her edited work, "The Cambridge Companion to Law and Buddhism," which will be the first comprehensive volume on the topic. She is currently conducting a major research project that brings tools of anthropology to bear on 2,500 cases on religion in the United States.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.