New Feinberg Distinguished Scholar in Residence at UMass Amherst to Examine the Value of Human Life

AMHERST, Mass. – The Feinberg Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is launching an annual, one-week scholar-in-residence program in which an eminent figure will study, speak and teach about how societies value human life.

Chancellor Robert C. Holub made the announcement today following alumnus Kenneth Feinberg’s lecture on the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which Feinberg directed. Starting in fall 2009, the Feinberg Distinguished Scholar in Residence will be at UMass Amherst for one week to present a public lecture and speak to classes. The residency will feature an individual recognized for contributions of extraordinary depth and influence that support creative thinking on the value of human life. The scholar will receive a $25,000 award.

Feinberg said, “The institute’s goal is to bring together the most advanced contemporary thought and work on how societies measure, codify and act on their conception of the value of human life. As the only organization devoted solely to studying these issues, the Feinberg Institute will work toward justice and reconciliation internationally, and this new program is a centerpiece of that endeavor.”

Holub observed that the Feinberg Institute and this new residency place UMass Amherst at the center of a vitally important, cross-cultural exploration. “Ken Feinberg is recognized as one of the foremost thinkers in this field, and through his leadership UMass Amherst is pioneering a unique field of scholarship to guide policymakers, the legal community, administrators and other decision makers worldwide.”

Feinberg is a 1967 graduate of UMass Amherst, earned his law degree from New York University School of Law in 1970 and received an honorary doctorate from UMass Amherst in 2002. He has had a distinguished and wide-ranging career in mediation, which has included cases involving Agent Orange and the Dalkon Shield. Most recently he oversaw Virginia Tech’s Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. He is best known as the Special Master of the Federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, and is the author of the book, “What is Life Worth? The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11.”