Head of UN Development Programme Named Dean Of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

James Gustave Speth, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, has been named dean of Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, President Richard C. Levin announced today. Speth’s appointment is effective July 1, 1999.

“In its century-long history, the distinguished leaders of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies have developed a program of education and research with an increasingly global focus. Gus Speth’s international credentials and active leadership in addressing the challenge of sustaining environmental quality in concert with worldwide development make him a superb choice to chart the School’s future,” Levin said.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the principal arm of the United Nations responsible for funding and coordination of technical assistance and development. The agency manages about $2 billion annually through offices in 132 developing countries, with programs focusing primarily on poverty elimination, good governance and environmental regeneration.

Speth said, “The School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale, generally, are giving extraordinary leadership in environmental education, training and research. I’m honored to have an opportunity to contribute to this. I share Rick Levin’s vision for Yale and FES in this growing field and am looking forward to working with the Yale community to realize it.”

Speth is a graduate of Yale College, Class of 1964, and the Yale Law School, where he received an LL.B. degree in 1969 and was a member of the Yale Law Journal. While accumulating academic honors as an undergraduate, culminating in a Rhodes Scholarship, he spent four years in a wide range of activities, including community service through Dwight Hall. Following his Yale education, Speth clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black, and served two U.S. presidents, including an appointment as senior adviser to the Clinton transition team, heading the group that examined the U.S. role in natural resources, energy and the environment.

He was Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center 1981-1982, where he taught environmental and constitutional law. He founded the World Resources Institute, a center for policy research and technical assistance on environmental and development issues, and was its president 1982-1993.

Speth, who received a B.Lit. degree in economics in 1967 from Balliol College, Oxford University, was one of the founders of the Natural Resources Defense Council and was a senior attorney there 1970-1977. He joined President Carter’s Council for Environmental Quality in 1977 and was chairman of that group 1980-1981. His 11-year leadership of the World Resources Institute led him to be named to his current post in 1993 as administrator of the UNDP under the direction of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“The School of Forestry and Environmental Studies was founded in 1900 to educate a corps of professionals in proper management of the forests and wilderness areas of the United States,” Levin said. “The challenge that FES faces is no longer limited to one resource in one nation, but extends to understanding and managing the environment worldwide, and to integrating environmental, economic and developmental concerns.

“Besides this increasingly global outlook, the School exemplifies another hallmark of Yale University today – our interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching,” Levin continued. “FES works closely with units that include Yale College, the Law School, the School of Management, Epidemiology and Public Health, the Institute for Biospheric Studies and the Peabody Museum. Our new dean hopes to strengthen these ties and especially to enhance the FES contribution to undergraduate teaching.”

Daniel C. Esty, associate professor of environmental law and policy in the FES and a long-time colleague of Speth, said, “Gus Speth brings to the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies unmatched experience as an environmental group leader, government official and international organization head. He promises to lead the School to new strengths and to continue the tradition of Yale’s leadership in environmental protection.”

Levin recognized the outstanding achievements of FES Dean John C. Gordon, who served during the past academic year, following the 1997 selection of former Dean Jared L. Cohon as president of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Penn. He also thanked William Smith, associate dean of the School, who will serve as acting dean until Speth’s arrival and who also served as head of the search committee.

Prior to joining the UNDP, Speth organized numerous leadership initiatives on environment and development. In 1991, he chaired a U.S. task force on international development and environmental security, which produced the report “Partnership for Sustainable Development: A New U.S. Agenda.” In 1990, he led the Western Hemisphere Dialogue on Environment and Development, which produced the seminal report “Compact for a New World.” Among his writings are “A Post-Rio Compact,” which appeared in the fall 1992 issue of the journal Foreign Policy.

Speth, who is married to the former Cameron Council and has two sons and a daughter, was winner of the National Wildlife Federation’s Resource Defense Award, the National Resources Council of America’s Barbara Swain Award of Honor and the Keystone Center’s National Leadership Award.

In addition to master’s and doctoral degree programs, FES sponsors numerous special programs and centers, including the Center for Coastal and Watershed Systems, the Center for Children’s Environmental Health Policy, the Center for Environmental Law and Policy (jointly with Yale Law School), the Industrial Environmental Management Program, the Program on Solid Waste Policy, the Tropical Resources Institute, the Urban Resources Institute and the Yale Forest Forum. The School also participates in the internationally known Hubbard Brook ecosystem study in New Hampshire.

To promote the exchange of information and scholars on a global scale, the School has entered into more than 40 memoranda of understanding with colleges and universities, private organizations and governmental agencies in the United States, as well as with similar institutions in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Speth is one of several prominent public policymakers to be named deans of Yale professional schools by Levin. In 1995, Levin appointed Jeffrey E. Garten, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade, as dean of the Yale School of Management. Dr. David A. Kessler, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, was named by Levin in 1997 to head the Yale School of Medicine.

Earlier this month, Levin appointed Robert A.M. Stern dean of the Yale School of Architecture. A distinguished practicing architect as well as a scholar, Stern’s projects have garnered national and international awards.

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