“As the inaugural holder of the Zilkha Chair,” said Talbott, “Bill Galston represents the high standards, intellectual distinction and personal integrity worthy of the donor. Ezra Zilkha has been a leader of our Board of Trustees for many years and a guiding force in Brookings’s growth as it approaches its second century. We are all grateful, privileged and honored that Ezra has chosen to invest in the Institution’s future through the endowment of this chair.”
The Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies will tackle some of the hardest questions in the area of political and institutional reform in a program that dates back to Brookings’s founding in 1916. Galston will have the opportunity to conduct and publish research, organize conferences, workshops, briefings and forums on these issues for policy-makers and the general public.
“Bill’s experience and reputation as one of the nation’s foremost political theorists makes him well-equipped to improve the quality and civility of public discourse in the United States,” said longtime Brookings trustee Ezra Zilkha, who is president of the New York-based private investment company Zilkha & Sons, Inc. and has served on numerous corporate and non-profit boards. “This chair will serve to strengthen American democracy by examining and evaluating its political institutions and when appropriate making recommendations for reform.”
Galston served as deputy assistant for domestic policy to President Clinton, and later as executive director for the National Commission on Civic Renewal. Galston was also the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, an organization he founded with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. He was a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland from 1988 through 2005, and directed the University’s Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy. Galston joined Brookings as a senior fellow in January 2006. He is the author of eight books and more than 100 articles in political theory, American government and politics, and public policy.
The Chair was announced at a Brookings event, held on June 24, with a keynote address on international governance and American law from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Justice Breyer spoke on the challenges and opportunities that international governance poses for American public law, a subject of increasing concern on a range of issues that have recently come before the Supreme Court, including national security and intelligence issues, corporate and individual liability in a globalized economy, and transnational challenges such as global warming.