Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, LL.M. ’80, was reelected in a landslide victory on Jan. 11. The first woman and second Cornellian to hold Taiwan’s highest office, Tsai received nearly 8.2 million votes, the highest tally for a presidential candidate since Taiwan began electing presidents by popular vote in 1996.
Tsai won 57% of the vote; her main opponent, Han Kuo-yu, took 39%.
After receiving her law degree from National Taiwan University, Tsai earned her master of law degree at Cornell; the program is designed for students who have a law degree from outside the United States.
“We would certainly like to think that the lessons President Tsai learned at Myron Taylor Hall about collegiality and about the importance of the rule of law have had an impact on her career since graduating,” said Eduardo Peñalver ’94, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law. “But the Law School cannot realistically claim any credit for President Tsai’s tremendous success leading Taiwan for the past four years. That said, Tsai Ing-Wen stands out among an illustrious list of Cornell Law School alumni who have gone on to distinguished careers in public service.”
The first president of Taiwan with an association with Cornell was Lee Teng-hui, Ph.D. ’68, who served from 1988 until 2000.
During Lee’s tenure, Tsai served as a senior adviser to Taiwan’s National Security Council. She narrowly lost her first bid for Taiwan’s presidency in 2012, but was elected in 2016 with 56% of the vote.
– Sherrie Negrea