Honorable Rya W. Zobel, Massachusetts Life Fellow, was announced as one of the 2023 Harvard Medal recipients. The recipients are chosen by the Harvard Alumni Association and will be presented to recipients on Harvard Alumni Day on June 2, 2023.
The Harvard Medal was first awarded in 1981 and recognizes extraordinary service to the University in areas including teaching, fundraising, leadership, innovation, administration, and volunteerism. Alumni, former faculty and staff, and members of organizations affiliated with the University are eligible to win. Judge Zobel was a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers, serving on visiting committees for many parts of the University, including the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Arnold Arboretum, and Harvard Kennedy School.
Judge Zobel began at Radcliffe College within three years of immigrating to the US, after escaping from East Germany at the age of 14 with her brother. It was three years after that that she graduated from Harvard Law School, as one of only 13 women in her class of more than 500. Following 10 years as a law clerk, Judge Zobel continued on to become the first woman: partner at a Boston law firm, judge on the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, and director of the Federal Judicial Center. She has been awarded the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award and the ABA’s Margaret Brent Award.
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