Ernesto Zedillo to Speak at Yale as Downey Fellow

Former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León will present a free, public lecture at Yale University on April 6 at 5 p.m. in the Luce Hall auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave., as the 2004–05 Downey Fellow.

Zedillo, an alumnus of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization and a professor of international economics and politics at Yale.

In 1978, Zedillo began a nine–year career with the Central Bank of Mexico, where he served as economist, deputy manager of economic research, general director of the trust fund for the renegotiation of private firms’ external debt and finally, deputy director of the bank. He served in the national government from 1987 to 1993 as Undersecretary of the Budget, Secretary of the Budget and Economic Planning and Secretary of Education, where he instituted sweeping educational reforms.

In 1994 Zedillo was elected President of Mexico. For the next six years he led the nation with an emphasis on economic reform and democratic principles. He began his term by averting a financial crisis, resulting in Mexico’s highest five–year period of GDP growth in recent history. At the same time, he oversaw the allocation of an increasing proportion of the federal budget to social programs each year, culminating in their highest historical share in 2000.

During his presidency, Zedillo undertook democratic and electoral reforms, opening the way for greater political pluralism in a nation long dominated by a single party. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2004, former President Bill Clinton described Zedillo’s role in Mexico’s political transition as “one of the great acts of statesmanship in the history of modern democracy.” New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman called Zedillo “one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met on the world stage.”

Since leaving office in 2000, Zedillo has remained a leading voice on globalization, especially its impact on relations between developed and developing nations. He served as chairman of the United Nations High Level Panel on Financing for Development in 2001 and currently serves as co–coordinator of the U.N. Millennium Development Project’s Task Force on Multilateral Trading and Financial Systems; co–chairman of the International Task Force on Global Public Goods; and co–chairman of the U.N. Commission on Private Sector and Development. He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission, the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Development.

Born in Mexico City, Zedillo attended Mexican public schools, graduated from the School of Economics at the National Polytechnic Institute and earned a Ph.D. in economics from Yale. Honored by the governments of 32 countries, Zedillo also holds honorary degrees from Yale and Harvard. He has received the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Fear Award, the Gold Insigne of the Council of the Americas, the Tribuna Americana Award of the Casa de America of Madrid and the Berkeley Medal—the highest honor bestowed by the University of California at Berkeley.

The Downey Fellowship encourages interest in Latin American affairs and scholarship. Previous Downey Fellows have included former Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, George Gallup and Hernando de Soto, director of the Peruvian research center, the Instituto Libertad y Democracia.

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