Michelle Nhuch


Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka joins MIT

April 7, 2014

CAMBRIDGE, MA—The Center for International Studies at MIT announces today today that Ranil Wickremesinghe has been named a Robert E. Wilhelm fellow. The Sri Lankan politician and current leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament will be at CIS for one month beginning April 8, 2014.

Wickremesinghe was prime minister of Sri Lanka twice, from May 7, 1993, to August 19, 1994, and from December 9, 2001, to April 6, 2004. A member of the United National Party, he was appointed party leader in November 1994.

During his time at MIT, Wickremesinghe will study how to formulate a constitution sans an executive presidency. He also will work with faculty and students interested in Asian regional issues.

CIS director Richard Samuels, a specialist on Japan, where prime ministers have struggled to consolidate executive powers, has expressed his welcome to Wickremesinghe: "My colleagues and I are delighted that the former prime minister has accepted our invitation to return to MIT. We look forward to exploring Asian regional issues with him."

A generous gift from Robert E. Wilhelm supports the Center's Wilhelm fellowship. The fellowship is awarded to individuals who have held senior positions in public life and is open, for example, to heads of non-profit agencies, senior officials at the State Department or other government agencies, including ambassadors, or senior officials from the UN or other multilateral agencies. Previous Wilhelm fellows include: Ambassador Barbara Bodine, Ambassador Frances Deng, Admiral William Fallon, and Yukio Okamoto, a former special advisor to the prime minister of Japan.

MIT's Center for International Studies, a dynamic international affairs research center, is home to a variety of research, education, and outreach programs. It seeks to bridge the worlds of the scholar and the policymaker by offering each a place to exchange perspectives, and by encouraging academics to work on policy-relevant problems. Center scholars, and the students they helped educate, have served at senior levels in every administration since the Kennedy years. They are today among the nation's most distinguished analysts and executives in government and the private sector.