Chapman Professor Lan Cao Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Mount Holyoke College

Lan Cao, Betty Hutton Williams Professor of International Economic Law in Fowler School of Law, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Mount Holyoke College in May. Cao earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke in 1983 before receiving her Juris Doctor from Yale University.

Cao, who specializes in international business and trade, international law and development, emigrated from Vietnam in 1975, an experience she has written about in her novels “Monkey Bridge” and “The Lotus and the Storm,” and in “Family in Six Tones,” a memoir co-authored by her daughter. 

“It is here that I gained the confidence to be a writer, a scholar whose research focuses on culture and international human rights, particularly women’s rights, and a novelist who writes about war, trauma and migration, about Vietnam, as a country with a thousand-year history, and not as a twenty-year American experience,” said Cao in her speech to the Mount Holyoke graduates

“Mount Holyoke shaped me into what I am today. Made in Vietnam, Assembled in the United States.”

Before coming to Chapman in 2013, served on the faculty at William & Mary Law School, and was a clerk for Judge Constance Baker Motley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She practiced with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison in New York City. She was a Ford Foundation Scholar in 1991. Her academic monograph “Culture in Law & Development: Nurturing Positive Change” was published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

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