New UConn Endowed Chairs in Human Rights Inspired by the Legacies of Dodd, Osiatyński


Former U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd and the late Wiktor Osiatyński, a prominent constitutional scholar whose fight against injustice spanned the globe, will be honored for their inspirational legacy through the establishment of two human rights professors at UConn.

The Board recently approved the creation of the Christopher J. Dodd Chair in the Practice of Human Rights and the Wiktor Osiatyński Chair in Human Rights, both of which will be part of the Institute of Human Rights (HRI) within the Office of Global Affairs.

The positions of President are both endowed, meaning they are funded by donations specifically made to the UConn Foundation by donors to support scholarship, human rights education and awareness and related critical areas.

The Dodd Chair will lead the Dodd Human Rights Impact programs and will be filled after an international search that will begin in August. The first Osiatyński Chair will be a current UConn faculty member who will be selected in the upcoming academic year, in time to begin in fall 2023.

UConn is a national leader in the growing field of human rights and is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Human Rights Institute in the 2022-23 academic year.

This year also marks 10 years since UConn created an undergraduate human rights major, becoming the first U.S. public university to do so, having previously established it as a minor in 2001. HRI also offers other solid human rights programs offered at the masters and postgraduate certificate levels.

Both Dodd and Osiatyński have had a profound impact on the global effort to protect and promote human rights and to strive for dignity and equality in society.

The establishment of the Endowed Chairs in their name builds on the University’s vibrant interdisciplinary Human Rights Institute and its commitment to advancing human rights research, teaching and practice.

“These new chairs pay tribute to two global human rights giants. We are very proud to be able to recognize their achievements and legacy in this way,” said Daniel Weiner, UConn vice president for global affairs.

The Christopher J. Dodd Professorship in Human Rights Practice is named in honor of the former U.S. Senator and Congressman, who followed in his father’s footsteps to use his positions and influence to passionately advocate human rights around the world.

Dodd’s father, Thomas J. Dodd, was also a senator and congressman, and was among the prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials in which some of the most notorious Nazi war criminals were prosecuted for the atrocities of World War II. perpetrated under the Third Reich.

Christopher Dodd continues his work through his support of the Dodd Center for Human Rights at UConn, including hosting President Joe Biden in the fall of 2021 to focus on human rights advocacy and action.

Senator Dodd and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, established the Dodd Endowment at the UConn Foundation in 2020 and the first donations to the fund were announced in 2021 in conjunction with President Biden’s visit to dedicate the Dodd Center for Human Rights.

“(It) will honor Senator Dodd’s contributions to the world and to the University, and extend his legacy by creating a new and innovative space for UConn’s human rights outreach and engagement work…(It ) will help address the urgent need to protect human rights and preserve human dignity,” UConn Acting President Radenka Maric told trustees in her recommendation to endorse the new endowed president.

The second endowed chair in honor of Wiktor Osiatyński will rotate every three years among UConn faculty who have made significant career contributions to the study of human rights.

UConn alumnus Gary Gladstein ’66 (CLAS) ’08 (HON) and his wife, Dr. Phyllis Gladstein, have been instrumental in the growth and success of the institute, including the recent partnership of Gladstein with George Soros of the Open Society Foundations to establish the endowment fund supporting the new Osiatyński Chair.

The Gladsteins have made generous donations for more than two decades to support human rights education and programming at UConn, including endorsing the Gladstein Professorship in Human Rights in 2003 and the Marsha Visiting Professorship Lilien Gladstein in human rights in 2000.

Osiatyński, who died in 2017, was a world-renowned constitutional law expert who co-authored the draft Bill of Rights that then Polish President Lech Walęsa submitted to that country’s parliament. He also drafted several provisions of the constitution adopted by Poland in 1997 and has written 25 books on various topics, including constitutionalism, drug addiction, science, sports, and social and political ideas.

Osiatyński was instrumental in promoting civil and political rights movements and the democratic transition of many Central and Eastern European states. His work with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and as a board member of the Open Society Foundations has had a profound impact on programs ranging from rule of law and constitutional development to gender-based violence and health and substance abuse.

Osiatyński was the first scholar to hold the annual Gladstein Visiting Professorship when he came to UConn in 2000, paving the way for more than 20 other distinguished scholars and researchers to follow him in subsequent years.

“Wiktor Osiatyński was a founding figure who played a vital role in the creation of the Human Rights Institute,” said HRI Director Kathryn Libal, associate professor of social work and human rights at UConn.

“He worked closely with faculty and students to make the Institute one of the leading interdisciplinary human rights programs,” she adds. “It is fitting to honor his legacy with the endowment of a professorship during our 20th anniversary.”

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