Wellesley Names Distinguished Visiting Professors for 2012 Albright Institute

January 2, 2012

WELLESLEY, Mass.—December 15, 2011—Wellesley College announced today that James D. Wolfensohn and Elaine Wolfensohn (Wellesley College Class of 1958) will serve as the 2012 Mary Jane Durnford Lewis '59 Distinguished Visiting Professors for the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs.

The former World Bank president and his wife, a long-time educator and arts patron, will join Wellesley for the Albright Institute’s January 2012 Wintersession. The program is an intensive three-week program for 40 Wellesley students selected as Albright Fellows. On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, James Wolfensohn will lead a public dialogue with Secretary Albright on the need for more robust institutional systems to effectively address global problems.

According to Joanne Murray ’81, director of the Albright Institute, Wellesley is thrilled that James and Elaine Wolfensohn have accepted the professorship. “We are delighted that the Wolfensohns will bring their lifetime of insights and acumen to expand Wellesley’s global stage.”

Named to honor the United States’ first female Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright ’59, the Albright Institute educates women for positions of global leadership. This year’s Wintersession will focus on the need to establish new institutions that will address the complex global problems of the 21st century. In light of growing concerns that existing institutions are not fulfilling their mandates, students will be asked to consider global challenges like: how to mobilize political will to assist victims of natural disasters; how to address climate change; and how to implement sanitation programs for the national water supply.

In the first two weeks of the January session, Albright Fellows will learn from the expertise and perspectives of faculty and thought leaders who represent a wide variety of fields including environmental science, sociology, political science, and economics. Expert program topics range from “Global Public Goods: What They Are and Why We Need Them” presented by Joseph B. Joyce, Wellesley professor of economics and Albright Institute faculty director, to “Humanitarian Responses to the Arab Spring” presented by Dr. Deane Marchbein of Doctors Without Borders. Drawing from what they learn during the expert presentations and from their own multidisciplinary studies at Wellesley, the Fellows will team up in groups of five to develop and propose innovative solutions to world problems. In the final week of the program, Fellows will present their proposals to the Wolfensohns for critique and analysis.

About the Albright Institute

Wellesley College launched the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs in January 2010. The Albright Institute supports the College’s mission of educating students for leadership in an increasingly complex and interdependent global environment. The program combines the intellectual resources of faculty from Wellesley College, researchers from the Wellesley Centers for Women, and leading alumnae and other practitioners in the fields of international relations and public policy.

Each year, 40 Wellesley students are selected as Albright Fellows to participate in an intensive, three-week course during the College’s Wintersession. The 2012 class of Albright Fellows is composed of 12 seniors and 28 juniors. These students represent 26 majors and hail from 21 countries:  Albania, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Lebanon, Moldova, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Tibet, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe. The students also pursue summer internships in global affairs in the United States and around the world.

About James D. Wolfensohn

James D. Wolfensohn was the ninth president of the World Bank Group (1995-2005). In that role, he traveled to more than 120 countries in order to pursue the challenges facing the World Bank in regard to poverty and environmental issues. He led successful initiatives on debt reduction, banking and finance, environmental sustainability, anti-corruption programs, and AIDS prevention and treatment.

In 2005 Wolfensohn assumed the post of Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East, helping to coordinate Israel’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and spearheading reconstruction efforts as Palestinians assumed sovereignty over the area.  Mr. Wolfensohn is an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institution, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Century Association in New York.

Born in Australia in December 1933, he is a naturalized U.S. citizen.  He holds B.A. and LL.B. degrees from the University of Sydney and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. He served as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, and was a member of the 1956 Australian Olympic Fencing Team. In May 1995 he was awarded knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to the arts. He is chairman of Wolfensohn & Company, LLC, a private investment firm and an advisor to corporations and governments.

About Elaine Wolfensohn ’58  

For more than 40 years, Elaine Wolfensohn has been involved in the field of education and arts education while raising her family. Her work in Australia and the United States has included teaching in private schools, creating teen tutoring programs in inner city schools, and training adult volunteers to tutor high school students. Mrs. Wolfensohn’s commitment to education also extends into her community advisory work. For years she chaired the Program Committee of the National Board of Young Audiences. She is President emeritus of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic. 

During her husband's presidency of the World Bank, Mrs. Wolfensohn worked closely with the Bank on issues of early child development, education, and gender. With the Wolfensohn Development Center at the Brookings Institute, she was engaged in work on early childhood development and Middle East youth inclusion. Mrs. Wolfensohn was educated at Wellesley College, where she received her B.A. She went on to receive her M.A. in French literature from Columbia and her M.Ed. in counseling psychology from Teachers College. 

About Wellesley College

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.