Professor Ní Aoláin Receives Regents Professorship, University’s Highest Faculty Honor

June 15, 2017

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents has named Fionnuala Ní Aoláin a Regents Professor of Law. The designation, granted earlier this month, is the highest level of recognition given to faculty by the University.

“Professor Ní Aoláin’s contributions to the human rights field around the world have not only been extremely impactful, they’re inspiring,” said University President Eric Kaler. “She exemplifies the qualities of teaching, research, and scholarship that this honor requires, and I congratulate her on this well-deserved distinction.”

“Professor Ní Aoláin is one of the world’s leading scholars on conflict resolution and gender-based violence in conflict,” said Dean Garry W. Jenkins. “Her work has influenced multiple jurisdictions and has contributed greatly to interdisciplinary knowledge exchanges in political science, anthropology, sociology, and history as well as law. Fionnuala’s work brings enormous credit to the Law School and the University, and I’m delighted that she has received this recognition from the Regents.”

Ní Aoláin’s research addresses the application of national security law to regulating terrorism, resolving accountability and political disputes in post-conflict societies, peace building, and transitional justice. Her contributions to the feminist analysis of international law are considered groundbreaking. She regularly consults with U.N. Women, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe, the United States Agency for International Development, the U.K. Department of International Development, and numerous domestic and international NGOs.

Ní Aoláin has held several top academic administrative posts since joining the faculty in 2004, including Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society; faculty director of the Human Rights Center; associate dean of the Law School; and co-director of the University of Ulster’s Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is also an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts.

Since the beginning of her academic career, Ní Aoláin has raised nearly $21 million in individual and institutional research funding. Most recently, she was co-principal investigator for the prestigious Newton Fellowship grant (2017) and co-investigator for the ESRC Strategic Network grant (2016), which concerns addressing the relationship between development and transitional justice research in Colombia, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Syria.

Ní Aoláin’s publication record includes eight books, nearly 80 articles and essays, and numerous policy reports and amicus briefs. Her first book, The Politics of Force, was based on research that identified patterns in the use of force by state agents during the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland. It is said to have been crucial to framing accountability debates that followed through the 1990s and has been considered instrumental to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Since 2010, she has served as chair of the Women’s Rights Program of the Open Society Foundation, which has distributed approximately $8 million annually to advance women’s rights around the world.

The Board of Regents will formally honor Ní Aoláin at its meeting on Sept. 8.

The Regents Professorship was established in 1965 to recognize the national and international prominence of faculty members. It serves as the highest recognition for faculty who have made unique contributions to the quality of the University of Minnesota through exceptional accomplishments in teaching, research, and scholarship or creative work and contributions to the public good. The addition of Ní Aoláin increases the current number of Regents Professorships to 30 and brings the all-time total to 101.

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin

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