Ruth Okediji Awarded McKnight Presidential Professorship
University President Eric Kaler has awarded the prestigious McKnight Presidential Professorship—one of the highest honors a University of Minnesota faculty member can receive—to Ruth Okediji, who has been the Law School’s William L. Prosser Professor of Law since 2003. Okediji is the third member of the Law School faculty to be so honored; the others are Susan Wolf (2006) and Michael Tonry (2011).
Okediji teaches contracts, copyright, trademarks, and international intellectual property law. Her research and scholarship focus on issues of innovation policy, economic development, and global knowledge governance. A foremost scholar, she was the inaugural Solly Robins Fellow at the Law School and the recipient of a McKnight Fellowship for her research on the interface of traditional knowledge innovation systems and the international intellectual property framework.
Okediji served on the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy Committee on the Impact of Copyright Policy on Innovation in the Digital Era, and she has advised numerous governments, regional economic bodies, and intergovernmental organizations on various aspects of patent, copyright, and trademark law. Her scholarship has influenced the design of national intellectual property laws and policies throughout Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Okediji has developed intellectual property curricula for training national, regional, and commercial courts around the world, and she is a key expert for many developing countries engaged in multilateral negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. In 2015, Okediji was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to serve on his High Level Panel on Access to Medicines, and Managing Intellectual Property named her one of the world’s most influential people in intellectual property law.
Okediji’s teaching has been recognized with numerous awards over the course of her career. She has been a faculty mentor in the President’s Distinguished Faculty Mentor Program and is a member of the Faculty Consultative Committee. She has held visiting professorships at numerous universities, including Harvard, Duke, Haifa, Toronto, and Tilburg. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 2008 and is currently president of the Order of the Coif. Okediji is of counsel with Robins Kaplan LLP in Minneapolis.
Recipients of the McKnight Presidential Professorship are recommended by their academic deans and selected at the discretion of the University president; they “exemplify the qualities in teaching, research, and service that the University values most highly.” Honorees hold the title “McKnight Presidential Professor” for as long as they remain at the University, and their names are engraved on monuments that line the Scholars Walk on the East Bank campus. The professorship also provides an annual stipend to support research and/or programmatic initiatives. The program is made possible by a $15 million gift to the University from the McKnight Foundation