Richards installed as inaugural Koch Distinguished Professor of Law

Neil Richards installation
Nancy Staudt, dean and the Howard & Caroline Cayne Distinguished Professor of Law, and Chancellor Andrew D. Martin applaud Neil Richards following Richards' installation as the Koch Distinguished Professor of Law. (Photo: Jerry Naunheim Jr./Washington University)

Neil M. Richards has been installed as the inaugural Koch Distinguished Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. A ceremony and reception were held last October to mark the occasion.

One of the world’s leading experts in privacy law, information law and freedom of expression, Richards is co-director of the university’s Joseph and Yvonne Cordell Institute for Policy in Medicine & Law.

He writes, teaches and lectures about the regulation of the technologies powered by human information that are revolutionizing our society.

The endowed professorship is named in honor of alumni, brothers and generous benefactors of Washington University, Paul (BSBA ’61, JD ’64, MBA ’68) and Roger (BSBA ’64, MBA ’66) Koch and their wives, Elke and Fran.

The brothers are principals, board co-chairmen and the third generation of leadership at Koch Development, a family-owned St. Louis-based developer and manager of commercial real estate as well as owner and operator of select entertainment attractions.

“The Cordell Institute is doing timely and important work in the ethics and policy of data-driven health care, and Neil Richards serves as an invaluable asset to that work,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “As society becomes increasingly reliant on technologies powered by human information, Professor Richards is working to ensure that our privacy rights are not left behind and that our online transactions are kept safe.”

“Neil Richards is one of the top privacy and data law experts in the world,” said Nancy Staudt, the Howard and Caroline Cayne Distinguished Professor of Law and dean of the School of Law. “We are fortunate to have him here at Washington University. This distinguished professorship is fitting recognition of his many scholarly accomplishments and will help to further his cutting-edge work at the intersection of law and medicine through the Cordell Institute.”

Richards, who previously was the Thomas and Karole Green Professor of Law, regularly speaks about privacy, big data, technology and civil liberties throughout the world and appears frequently in the media.

At Washington University, he teaches courses on privacy, technology, free speech and constitutional law and is a past recipient of the School of Law’s Professor of the Year award.

He is the author of “Intellectual Privacy” (Oxford Press 2015) and a forthcoming book, “Why Privacy Matters” (Oxford Press 2020). His many scholarly and popular writings on privacy and civil liberties have appeared in a wide variety of media, from the Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal to The Guardian, Wired and Slate.

Richards earned an undergraduate degree from George Washington University and completed graduate degrees in law and history from the University of Virginia in 1997.

He served as a law clerk to both Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Judge Paul V. Niemeyer of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Richards is an affiliate scholar with the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and the Yale Information Society Project; a fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology; and a consultant and expert in privacy cases. He serves on the board of the Future of Privacy Forum and is a member of the American Law Institute.

About the Kochs

Paul and Roger Koch have long been ardent supporters of Washington University’s Olin Business School and the School of Law. In 2012, they were recognized with a distinguished alumni award from Olin, and the School of Law honored Paul Koch with a distinguished alumni award in 2018. The brothers received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day in 2019.

(From left) Elke Koch, Paul Koch, Roger Koch and Fran Koch at the installation ceremony for Neil Richards, the Koch Distinguished Professor of Law. (Photo: Jerry Naunheim Jr./Washington University)

Gifts from the Kochs and their foundations have created two professorships: the Koch Distinguished Professorship in Family Business and the Koch Distinguished Professorship in Law.

The Koch Distinguished Professorship in Law supports a law faculty member whose teaching and research focus on the intersection of medicine, policy and law.

As passionate advocates for family business, the Kochs contributed an endowment gift through the generosity of the Paul A. and Elke E. Koch Charitable Foundation as well as the Fran and Roger Koch Charitable Foundation, all of which helped establish the Koch Center for Family Business and the Koch Distinguished Professorship in Family Business at Olin. That professorship will be awarded to the director of the family business center.

The Kochs have been longtime advisers to Washington University. Their history of philanthropy at the university has provided significant support for the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center as well as the Roger and Fran Koch Endowed Scholarship and facilities at Olin Business School. Paul and Elke Koch also support the School of Law.

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