Robert B. Kent

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Robert B. Kent


Peter W. Martin

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Video Interview

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From the video archives of the Cornell Law School Heritage Project. The interviewer is Peter W. Martin and the videographer is Michael D'Estries. This video covers the career of Robert B. Kent as a law teacher at B.U., in Africa, and at Cornell.

Kent began his teaching career at the Boston University School of Law, his alma mater. He taught there for thirty-one years, two of which he spent abroad as professor of law and dean of the University of Zambia. He joined the Cornell Law School faculty in 1981 and served as associate dean from 1982 to 1986. After his retirement in 1992, Kent was a distinguished visiting professor at Roger Williams University School of Law from 1997-2001.

An expert in alternative dispute resolution, civil procedure, and international law, Kent was a favorite among students for his compelling teaching style and inspirational lectures. Among the many students inspired by Kent were Muna Ndulo and Cynthia Farina, both of whom went on to become professors at the Law School.

Professor Ndulo, also director of Cornell’s Institute for African Development, was taught by Kent at the University of Zambia. Ndulo says that Kent’s encouragement and mentoring helped him decide to pursue graduate studies at Harvard.

Cynthia Farina, the William G. McRoberts Research Professor in Administration of the Law, was inspired to pursue a career as a legal academic after taking a federal courts course taught by Kent at the Boston University Law School.

Building upon his experience in Zambia, Professor Kent spearheaded the Lawyers in Africa initiative at Cornell Law School in which recent graduates were sent to the University of Zambia to teach. The project was a cooperative effort with Cornell's Institute for African Development and the Peace Corps. In 1996, Kent received the Peace Corps Citation for this work. The president of Zambia also honored him for his service to that country.

During his time at Cornell Law School, Kent was regularly chosen by the graduating class to deliver the keynote speech at Convocation. Legendary teacher and mentor, professor emeritus Robert B. Kent died February 5, 2015 at the age of 93.


Cornell Law School, law professors


Legal Education


The initial phase of this project was sponsored by a generous grant from the law firm of Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP.