April 12, 2016

SIPA celebrated the 2016 Global Leadership Awards at a ceremony that brought 325 guests—alumni and friends, students, faculty, and staff—to New York City’s Mandarin Oriental hotel on April 8. Now in their 16th year, the annual awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made innovative or otherwise extraordinary contributions to the global public good through their work in public policy and administration.

This year’s honorees were Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations; Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund; James A. Baker III, the 61st U.S. secretary of State and 67th U.S. secretary of the treasury; and Wang Boming MIA ’88, the chairman-CEO of SEEC Media Group who has been called “one of the founding fathers” of China’s capital markets.

Guests at the event, which is part of SIPA’s ongoing 70th-anniversary celebration, enjoyed a reception, dinner, and inspiring views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline at the venue high above Columbus Circle. Several current students took part as event ambassadors nominated by faculty and selected by School administrators. As always, proceeds raised from the event will provide fellowship support for SIPA students.

University President Lee C. Bollinger was on hand to welcome guests, who heard SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow salute the four honorees for exemplifying the qualities that SIPA seeks to instill in its students.

In accepting the award from Janow, honoree Christine Lagarde said the world needs global leadership because good and ill know no boundaries. She encouraged students to take their skills outside the United States and their home countries. “Global leadership is hard work, but we do it because it is our duty and it takes us further than those borders,” she said.

In office since 2011, Lagarde is the first woman to lead the IMF. As France’s finance minister from 2007 to 2011, she was the first female finance minister of a G-7 country.

Another honoree, James A. Baker III, served as a cabinet secretary under U.S. presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush and worked on five presidential election campaigns. He suggested that factors including redistricting practices, the media, and the internet had contributed to contemporary division and dysfunction in U.S. politics, and called for a different kind of leadership.

 “I'm afraid that far too many politicians these days feed into our fears rather than our hopes,” he said.

Ban could not attend in person but shared thanks and good wishes in a video message to the audience.

Since the United Nations was founded in 1945, he said, “SIPA faculty and alumni have continued to contribute to our work. I personally rely on many as my senior advisors.”

“I am especially impressed by SIPA students,” Ban continued, adding later: “I count on SIPA to continue supporting the United Nations as we rise to the challenges of our day. Thank you for your leadership and engagement.”

The final honoree, business leader Wang Boming MIA ‘88 also sent regrets after an illness prevented him from attending.

The two honorees who were present joined Janow for a conversation that touched on multiple issues including trade, growth, and inequality. Janow concluded the discussion by asking the honorees to share advice for today’s students, the next generation of leaders.

Baker said people in a position of privilege should “give back by voting, participate in the public system, volunteer, and give to nonprofits.”

Lagarde said to “Engage, embrace, enjoy... and share that joy with others.”

— with reporting and writing by Lindsay Fuller MPA ’16 and Kristen Grennan MPA ’16

Gala Welcome - Ban Ki-moon


Message of welcome from Ban Ki-moon.

Photo gallery

Pictured from left: Christine Lagarde, James A. Baker III, Dean Merit E. Janow