Campus News / Spring 2017

Ved Nanda celebrates 50 years at DU

In February, Ved Nanda celebrated his 50th anniversary of teaching at DU. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

It was the only spanking he ever got from his mom, jokes Ved Nanda, international law professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. As a young boy living in Gujranwala, India, Nanda got a tattoo from a man on the street. He was proud of the artwork. His mother was outraged.

But the little tattoo on his left hand became a symbol that guided Nanda’s life. The tattoo is the sign for “om,” a Hindu spiritual symbol that represents the belief that we are all connected.

Decades later, the tattoo is still visible on Nanda’s hand, and he continues to embody the notion that we are all connected. In February, Nanda celebrated his 50th anniversary of teaching at DU.

“No single word can capture Ved Nanda or his incalculable gifts to his university, state, nation and world,” says Bruce Smith, dean of the Sturm College of Law. “But if I have to choose, I lean toward ‘humanitarian,’ a word that encapsulates Ved’s distinctive contributions to international law, as well as his inestimable empathy, understanding and commitment to his community and to the human condition.”

In the late 1960s, Nanda introduced an International Human Rights Law course at Denver Law, making it the second course of its kind in the nation at that time. Nanda created the law school’s International Legal Studies Program in 1972, and that same year he established the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. The Sturm College’s Ved Nanda Center for International & Comparative Law was established in 2006.

During “Woodstock West,” the moniker given to the shanty village built on DU’s campus as part of a protest over the school’s decision to stay open after the Kent State incident of 1970, Nanda helped orchestrate community events designed to engage the campus in meaningful dialogue. He also has been integral in bringing world leaders and dignitaries to campus, including the Dalai Lama and Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, former president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

But what matters most to Nanda are his relationships with his students. “Oftentimes students who come into my office don’t come in simply for law, don’t come in simply for career, but come in to talk about themselves and family affairs,” says Nanda, who also serves as an adjunct professor at DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. “They open their hearts to me for assistance. And if I can help, I will.”


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