Professor Jacobson Addresses Bulgarian Council of Ministers

Professor M.H. "Sam" Jacobson, who was awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach in the Law Department of Sofia University in Bulgaria for spring semester 2006, recently addressed the Bulgarian Council of Ministers in Velingrad, Bulgaria, on how democratizing administrative processes could reduce government corruption.

"One of the greatest challenges facing government administration in Bulgaria today is the containment, if not the elimination, of corruption," said Jacobson, who went on to cite statistics from the Center for Democratic Studies that indicate more than 120,000 corrupt transactions occur in Bulgaria every month. "Not only does corruption undermine the rule of law, but it undermines any confidence that the public may have in those institutions that administer the law."

In her presentation to the Council, Jacobson proposed three crucial democratic changes to Bulgarian government: improved public access to information, greater public participation in decision making, and better management of administrative agencies. She noted that these changes could have the added benefit of reducing the perception of corruption, thereby dramatically improving public trust in the government.

Jacobson, who teaches Legal Research & Writing and Administrative Law at Willamette, has traveled to Bulgaria regularly since 1993, lecturing and writing on a number of topics, including democratic principals, constitutional and administrative processes, ethics, and methods of combating government corruption. She will co-author a book on fighting corruption in Bulgaria with Professor Maria Slavova, professor of law at Sofia University and senior expert to the Commission on Civil Society and Media.

During her time at Sofia University, Jacobson has taught Constitutional and Administrative Processes, a course that explores constitutional and administrative law processes from comparative and international perspectives.