Distinguished alums honored

BY HUGO TORRES

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Two distinguished public servants were honored at Harvard Law school on Tuesday. Senator Paul Sarbanes ’60 was honored for his work on corporate reform and Glen Fine ’85, inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice, was honored for his investigation into allegedly improper activities by the Bush administration. They are the recipients of the Cox, Coleman, Richardson Awards for Distinguished Public Service and were given their awards during a ceremony in the Ropes-Gray room. California State Senator Sheila Kuehl is also an award recipient, but was not able to attend and will be given her award in a ceremony to be held in the Fall semester.

“These are wonderful recipients of this award,” said Dean Elena Kagan in opening remarks, “and [they are] two people who show us the good that public service can do.”

Dean Kagan also urged the audience to follow the example of Sarbanes and Fine, both alums of Harvard Law School. “They’re great role models for all our students,” said Kagan.

Senator Sarbanes, receiving his award, spoke of the need for an ethic of public service in the corporate world. “It is possible to do public interest in the private sector. Indeed, I think there is a responsibility to do so,” said Sarbanes. Enron and its collapse was the “canary in the mine” pointing to a need for greater reform which Sarbanes has worked towards during his tenure in the Senate, including, most famously, the Sarbanes-Oxley act which enacted stricter standards regarding corporate accountability.

Sarbanes noted that the corruption in the corporate world comes from an absence of concern for the public welfare. “Our word, ‘idiot’, comes from the Greek ‘idiotes’, which is someone who has only a private focus,” said Sarbanes. “I would hope there are no Harvard Law students who are idiotes.”

Sarbanes is the longest serving United States senator to represent Maryland, having been elected to his fifth term in 2000. He is the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee where he has led the charge for corporate reform. Previously, during his tenure in the House of Representatives, Sarbanes introduced the first Article of Impeachment, for obstruction of justice, against President Richard Nixon.

Inspector General Fine continued the theme of accountability and concern for the public welfare. Charged with investigating waste, fraud, and abuse within the government, Fine expressed satisfaction at being able to make a difference, noting that his job is “one of the more interesting and challenging jobs I could imagine.”

“In this job you are bound to make someone mad,” said Fine, noting that such a reaction comes with the territory but that one cannot back down. “It’s not a popularity contest…I try to call them like I see them,” said Fine. “Anything you do is going to cause controversy, but you can’t let that deter you.”

Fine was appointed at the end of the Clinton administration and has led many notable investigations, including that of the FBI and its handling of the Robert Hansen spy case, the impropriety of hiding relevant documents in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution, and the treatment of aliens after the attacks of September 11th.

This is the second year the awards were given out. They were presented for the first time last year to the namesakes of the awards, Archibald Cox, Bill Coleman, and Eliot Richardson.

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