Former students, long-time colleagues, family members and friends of Roger Fisher gathered at Harvard University’s Loeb House for a recent gala dinner to celebrate Fisher’s 80th birthday. Fisher, who was born May 28, 1922, is (among many other accomplishments) the Williston Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School, co-author of the best-selling book Getting to YES, and a founder of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
He was joined at the birthday dinner by his spouse of over 50 years, Carrie Fisher, and the couple’s two sons, Eliot Fisher, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, and Peter Fisher, who is Undersecretary for Domestic Finance, U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Fisher’s long-time colleague Bruce M. Patton served as master of ceremonies for the evening, which featured appreciative recollections from the dinner guests about how Fisher had made a difference in their professional and personal lives. Eloquent tributes were heard from college professors ranging from the nonagenarian Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith to more youthful professors, such as Elizabeth Kopelman Borgewardt of the University of Utah and Michael Watkins of the Harvard Business School. Also joining in the salute to their long-time friend and mentor were people who’ve worked with Fisher at the Harvard Negotiation Project (the “parent” organization of the Program on Negotiation), the Conflict Management Group, Vantage Partners, and other organizations with which Fisher is associated.
Among the continuing themes throughout the evening were Fisher’s generosity and support of younger colleagues; unwavering optimism in his approach to negotiation; ability to communicate, teach, lead, and inspire; boundless energy; and lifelong work ethic. (The morning after the dinner program, which ended with desserts and coffee well after midnight, Fisher was back to work, participating in a PON-sponsored research group focused on the relationships between negotiation and psychoanalytic theory).
Although an “emeritus” professor, Fisher continues to teach negotiation and is a frequent consultant to governments, business firms, and individuals throughout the world. Among his current projects is a collaboration with psychologist Daniel Shapiro on research on the role of emotions in negotiation, which is expected to lead to publication of a new book within the next few years.
A highlight of the birthday dinner was the showing of an original film, produced by Patton and director Sally Rubin, which showcased the many facets of Fisher’s career, focusing particularly on his work to advance the developing negotiation field. Among those featured in the film were Program on Negotiation faculty colleagues Patton, William Ury, Howard Raiffa, and Lawrence Susskind; Harvard Professor Galbraith; and many others.
Sally Rubin, a documentary film maker, is a Tufts University graduate who will be starting a master’s degree program in film at Stanford University this fall. She is the daughter of Carol Rubin and the late Jeffrey Z. Rubin, founding editor of Negotiation Journal and a long-time colleague of Fisher’s.
–All photos by Bob Keene/Keene Vision Photography