PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University has appointed Romano Prodi, former prime minister of Italy, to a five-year term as professor-at-large, based at the Watson Institute for International Studies. The appointment was made Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, by the Corporation of Brown University.
Prodi twice served as prime minister of Italy and also served as president of the European Commission. As professor-at-large, Prodi will spend several weeks in residence during the course of each academic year, delivering lectures, working with students both in class and outside the classroom, and participating in events and research discussions at the Watson Institute.
“Throughout his career, Romano Prodi has been at home in both government and academic institutions,” said Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons. “A seasoned, thoughtful and articulate world leader, he is an excellent, welcome and distinguished addition to the Brown faculty.”
“Romano Prodi is one of the world’s most respected political leaders,” said Brown University Provost David Kertzer. “His perspectives on recent European and global developments will greatly enrich the intellectual life of our students and faculty. Prime Minister Prodi is eager to return to a university setting and is looking forward to interacting with students and faculty at Brown.”
Prodi was born in Scandiano, Italy, in 1939. He received his law degree at the Catholic University of Milan and completed postgraduate work at the London School of Economics. Prodi began his academic career at the University of Bologna in 1963, where he served as assistant in political economics and professor of industrial organization and industrial policy until 1999. He has also held research and teaching positions at the Lombard Institute of Economic and Social Studies, Stanford Research Institute, Free University of Trento, and Harvard University. In 1981, Prodi founded Nomisma, the largest Italian institute of economic studies, whose scientific committee he chaired until 1995. During his academic and institutional career, Prodi has received several prestigious awards and holds numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world, including a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) from Brown, conferred in 1999.
Prodi entered politics in 1978, when he was appointed the Italian minister of industry. From 1982 to 1989, he served as chairman of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction (IRI), at the time Italy's largest holding company. Under his chairmanship, IRI underwent a far-reaching reorganization, embarking on a process of change and preparing its subsidiaries for privatization. Prodi was called back to the helm of IRI in May 1993 and successfully saw through the privatization of large companies such as Credito Italiano and Banca Commerciale Italiana.
In 1995, Prodi founded the Ulivo — “The Olive Tree” — the center-left coalition, which made him its candidate for prime minister in the 1996 elections. Ulivo won the general elections that year and the Prodi government remained in office until 1998. One of its achievements was to secure Italy’s place among the first countries to adopt the euro.
In 1999, Prodi was appointed president of the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union. During his presidency, the euro was successfully introduced; the Union was enlarged by 10 new countries from central, eastern and southern Europe; and the treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was signed. He served until 2005. In the 2006 parliamentary elections in Italy, Prodi again led the center-left coalition to victory, and again became prime minister, serving until May 8, 2008. Prodi is currently president of the Foundation for Worldwide Cooperation and chairman of the UN-AU Panel for Peacekeeping in Africa.
Brown University established the professor-at-large position to invite individuals of exceptional distinction to participate in the intellectual and academic life of the University. Other current professors-at-large include Richard C. Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Germany and recently appointed special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Obama administration; the distinguished Mexican author Carlos Fuentes; and Ricardo Lagos Escobar, former president of the Republic of Chile.