By Emily Gold Boutilier
Over the summer Wei Sun Christianson ’85 and Andrew Nussbaum ’85 became the newest members of the Amherst Board of Trustees.
Christianson, the first student from mainland China admitted to Amherst, is managing director and China CEO of Morgan Stanley, where she is responsible for all aspects of the firm’s China business. The trustees appointed her to a six-year term on the board.
Nussbaum is a former Rhodes Scholar who served as a law clerk to both Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The alumni body elected him to a six-year term on the board.
Christianson says she’ll always remember her first assignment at Amherst, given in a political science course a few days after her arrival in the United States: a paper on U.S. government. “I sobbed in the library,” she says. “In the Chinese educational system, I was trained to memorize information only. Overnight, I had to search for and read vast amounts of material, analyze information independently and develop my own opinion.” Christianson has fond memories of her Amherst courses, professors, fellow students and host family (the family of Professor Richard “Pete” Foose). A political science major, she graduated cum laude. She went on to graduate from the Columbia School of Law.
In the early 1990s she was associate director of the corporate finance department at Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. She describes her current position as “the right job at the right time and the right place, since Morgan Stanley was one of the first foreign investment banks to do business in China.”
In 2009 Fortune magazine named her one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. The Wall Street Journal named her one of 50 Women to Watch in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She is cochairman of the International Advisory Board of the Columbia School of Law. She lives in Beijing with her husband, Jon Christianson, and three sons, Erik (18), Neil (15) and Nicholas (13).
Nussbaum is a partner in the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he specializes in mergers and acquisitions, cross-border transactions and corporate governance. He is board chairman of the nonprofit Asphalt Green, which offers activities such as swimming lessons, exercise classes, senior wellness programs and organized sports to thousands of New York City children and adults, both through paid memberships and as a free community service.
Nussbaum was a law clerk to Ginsburg from 1991 to 1992, while she was on the U.S. Court of Appeals, and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia from 1992 to 1993. While the judicial philosophies of Ginsburg and Scalia are poles apart, “they are not different in the intellectual rigor that they bring to being a judge or justice,” Nussbaum says. Ginsburg provided the final recommendation that got him the job with Scalia.
At Amherst, Nussbaum was a varsity swimmer, a member of the water polo team, president of Phi Beta Kappa and a member of Phi Delta Theta. On campus when the fraternity system was abolished, he says a low point of his college years was seeing Amherst become a heavily divided “single-issue campus” during that period. One high point was his experience as a Russian major: “It was not just books, not just history, not just language. It was everything cooked in a pot and served to you fresh.”
A summa cum laude graduate, Nussbaum has volunteered for Amherst in many roles. He lives in New York City with his wife, Darcy Miller Nussbaum, and their three daughters, Daisy (6), Ella (4) and Pippa (1).