Boston College has named Odette Lienau, professor of law and former associate dean for faculty research and intellectual life at Cornell University Law School, as the inaugural Marianne D. Short, Esq., Dean at Boston College Law School, effective January 2023.
A distinguished legal and political scholar and internationally renowned expert on sovereign debt issues, with a special focus on developing and transitional countries, Lienau has centered her research and teaching interests on international economic law, debtor-creditor relations, international politics, and political and legal theory. She has served as a consultant and expert for the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and offered Congressional testimony on the international debt architecture before the United States House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security.
Lienau’s scholarship seeks to understand the broad international market rules that affect expectations about appropriate behavior for businesses, governments, and other actors. She is the author of Rethinking Sovereign Debt: Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance, which won an American Society of International Law Book Award in 2016, and which challenges the conventional wisdom that all states—including those emerging from a major regime change—must repay debt or suffer reputational consequences in a functioning international capital market. Her current research considers different approaches to sovereign debt collection as a lens for understanding distinctions between public and private wealth, and her articles and chapter contributions have appeared in the Harvard International Law Journal, the Yale Journal of International Law, the Virginia Journal of International Law, the Hastings Law Journal, the Yale Law Journal Forum, and Oxford University Press, among other publications.
She is a life member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a member of the American Society of International Law, American Political Science Association, and Law & Society Association.
In announcing the appointment, Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley praised Lienau as a person with the breadth of knowledge, global perspective, and vision to lead Boston College Law School into the future.
"The search committee was pleased to see that our deanship generated strong interest from an impressive cohort of legal educators from leading law schools across the country,” said Quigley. “Odette Lienau stood out as an accomplished scholar and educator who offered up a compelling vision for the future of Boston College Law School. I am excited to welcome her to campus next academic year and to work together to educate the kinds of lawyers our society needs."
BC Law School Founders Professor Mary Sarah Bilder, who served on the search committee, called Lienau "an extraordinary scholar, inspirational leader, and imaginative problem-solver with an abiding faith that global and local communities can be improved through thoughtful and respectful intellectual engagement. I am thrilled to be able to be at BC Law as this next amazing chapter unfolds," Bilder said.
"Odette Lienau is an absolutely outstanding choice for our next dean," added BC Law Professor and search committee member Vlad Perju, who cited her scholarly reputation, administrative experience, and vision for the school. "With erudition and skill, she has shown how law can be used in the area of international finance and beyond as an instrument of emancipation and justice rather than a tool for oppression and domination. We simply could not have hoped for a better dean."
“These last several years have seen such upheaval for individuals, the nation, and the world—in struggling with racial justice, the meaning of democratic rule, and the management of a global pandemic and its fallout. It is an incredibly important time to educate lawyers who are dedicated to developing their talents to the fullest and finding meaning in their work, and who are committed to the equal dignity of all and to serving others in their lives. I so look forward to working with everyone at the law school and at the University to further strengthen this mission and to amplify its impact in the world.”
Lienau said she was grateful to be named dean of BC Law, given the school’s values, heritage, and distinctive mission.
"I am thrilled and honored to join the Boston College Law School community, as I have long admired its fantastic and engaged faculty, student body, and alumni,” said Lienau. “I also believe that this is a very significant moment in legal education—a moment in which BC’s mission and heritage speak to me so deeply.
“These last several years have seen such upheaval for individuals, the nation, and the world—in struggling with racial justice, the meaning of democratic rule, and the management of a global pandemic and its fallout. It is an incredibly important time to educate lawyers who are dedicated to developing their talents to the fullest and finding meaning in their work, and who are committed to the equal dignity of all and to serving others in their lives. I so look forward to working with everyone at the law school and at the University to further strengthen this mission and to amplify its impact in the world."
A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she received a B.A. in social studies and served as president of the Harvard Society of International Students, Lienau graduated cum laude from New York University School of Law, winning the Jerome Lipper Graduation Prize for outstanding work in international law and the John Bruce Moore Award for excellence in law and philosophy. She then completed a Ph.D. in government/political science at Harvard, where she earned the Charles Sumner Prize for best dissertation on international issues.
Upon completion of her studies, Lienau served as an associate at the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling, L.L.P., working in its Financial Restructuring & Insolvency Group. She joined the faculty at Cornell Law School in 2010 and taught courses in International Economic Law; Bankruptcy and Debtor-Creditor Law; International Law & International Relations; Markets, Democracy, and the Rules of Law; and Sovereign Debt. She also served on the law school’s faculty appointments and building and design committees and chaired the upper-level curriculum and transition committee in 2020 to help facilitate the shift to online and hybrid pedagogy.
A dedicated and highly respected teacher who is credited with bringing an interdisciplinary and historically informed perspective to the classroom, she is also a faculty member in Cornell’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, serving as a committee member and external reviewer for doctoral theses in the fields of government and peace studies.
In addition, she held appointments as the Martin R. Flug Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School and the Nomura Visiting Professor of International Financial Systems at Harvard Law School.
As Cornell’s inaugural associate dean for faculty research and intellectual life, Lienau worked collaboratively with faculty, administrators, and students to promote community collegiality—particularly by recognizing faculty achievement, supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion, addressing COVID-19 challenges, and responding to a range of educational issues from evolving ranking methodologies to global exchanges. She also facilitated faculty- and staff-wide presentations regarding national conversations on racial justice, including on histories of policing and competing constitutional narratives.
Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia—the birthplace of her mother—with visits to her father’s hometown of Sheboygan, Wisc., Lienau is conversant in Indonesian and French. Her interests include travel, reading, dance, and hiking. She is married to fellow Cornell professor Aziz Rana, the Richard and Lois Cole Professor of Law, who will also join the Boston College faculty as the Provost’s Distinguished Fellow in 2023-2024, and then as the J. Donald Monan, S.J., Chair in Law and Government beginning in 2024. An acclaimed legal scholar, Rana is an expert in constitutional law, race and citizenship, and national security law who looks forward to engaging with the Boston College Forum on Racial Justice in America and the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.
Lienau said she is excited to join the BC Law School community and to reintroduce her two children, ages five and nine, to the Boston area.
“Aziz and I are delighted to return to Greater Boston, where we spent many years as students and where we have family ties,” said Lienau. “We plan to revisit some old favorite spots and, as a family, we are excited to discover more of the vibrant neighborhoods and beautiful natural areas in this dynamic region.”
The Marianne D. Short, Esq., Law School Deanship was established in 2021 through a $10 million gift from Boston College Trustee Marianne Short, executive vice president, chief legal officer, and member of the Office of the Chief Executive at UnitedHealth Group. A 1973 graduate of the Newton College of the Sacred Heart and a 1976 graduate of BC Law, Short made the gift in recognition of the “guiding force” that Boston College Law School has been throughout her life and illustrious 45-year legal career.
David Quigley said that Professor of Law and Dr. Thomas F. Carney Distinguished Scholar Diane Ring will remain as interim dean of the law school through the fall semester, where she has provided steady leadership since her appointment in June. "Diane Ring has been a wonderful partner this academic year and I am grateful that she will serve one additional semester as interim dean,” said Quigley. “Her commitment to the Law School community is extraordinary."
Jack Dunn | University Communications | May 2022