Alumnus Increases Human Rights Support

Gary Gladstein has already made a significant impact on the University with several major gifts. His most recent $1.25 million gift will further expand UConn’s human rights programming.

<p>Gary Gladstein. Archival photo</p>
Gary Gladstein. Archival photo

Gary Gladstein ’66, ’08 (honorary) has left indelible marks across the University of Connecticut, but nowhere more significantly than the Human Rights Institute. With his most recent $1.25 million gift, Gladstein is further expanding resources for UConn’s internationally recognized human rights programming.

“The University provided me with a great education and opportunity,” says Gladstein. “I’m in a position to give back and want to do it in a meaningful way.

“Human rights awareness needs to develop worldwide, and I hope that the Human Rights Institute will contribute,” he adds. “This is an area where I would like UConn to be known as among the best in the country.”

Gladstein began a legacy to honor his late wife in 1998 with the Marsha Lilien Gladstein Visiting Professorship in Human Rights. Marsha was a kindergarten teacher in the Bridgeport public school system and a dedicated supporter of education and human rights. In 2001, Gladstein also established the Human Rights Fund, followed by the Judi and Gary Gladstein Distinguished Chair in Human Rights in 2005.

The visiting professorship attracts eminent scholars in sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and political science to participate in teaching, research, and outreach at UConn. The distinguished chair supports the work of anthropologist Richard Wilson, director of the Human Rights Institute.

“In the past 10 years, UConn has created one of the best human rights teaching and research programs at a public university anywhere in the world, and our success is due in no small part to the generosity of Gary Gladstein,” Wilson says. “He has been a stalwart and unwavering supporter.”

Gladstein says he has focused his support on higher education because it’s an ideal venue to open a dialogue, educate students, and encourage them to take up the cause. He says there is a profound need to increase the pipeline of educated human rights advocates from a broad range of disciplines to become the next generation of leaders in the United Nations, nongovernmental organizations, and other groups.

“Humans must all learn to live together in peace and share our wonderful world,” says Gladstein. “I envision how much better the world would be if we could all share it and respect each other’s beliefs. We must encourage more interfaith dialogues and religious tolerance in an increasingly volatile world.”

He adds that a comment by former President Bill Clinton made a big impact on him: “When Clinton was asked about a shared society where there is respect for everyone’s dignity and human rights while providing everyone with equal opportunity, he stated, ‘We really have no other alternative. We either learn to get along and respect one another – and not define each other by negative reference – while celebrating our diversity, or we are finished.’”

Impressed by the Human Rights Institute’s success and pleased to have found a strong partner in UConn’s administration, Gladstein was inspired to provide additional support to add faculty positions and speed growth.

Wilson notes that plans for the future include expanding the faculty to enhance the institute’s expertise in social and economic rights and international human rights law and politics; developing an undergraduate human rights major; and expanding national and international internships available to students.

“The enduring support of senior administrators including the president, provost, and deans has provided the basis for developing a world-class program,” says Wilson. “Human rights are now a distinguishing feature of the University, being an integral part of the academic plan and the Our University. Our Moment. fund-raising campaign.”

Campaign logoGladstein is a retired partner and chief operating officer of Soros Fund Management and an emeritus director of the UConn Foundation. In addition to supporting human rights programming, he previously established the Gladstein Professorship in Information Technology and the Gladstein Endowment for the MIS Research Laboratory, both at the School of Business, and provided seed funding for the Women’s Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program at the UConn Health Center.