Human Rights Institute Renamed After Longtime Benefactor Gary Gladstein and Family

The UConn Board of Trustees Wednesday renamed the Human Rights Institute the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute to honor the legacy and support of alumnus Gary Gladstein and his family

Gary and Phyllis Gladstein posing for a photo

Gary and Phyllis Gladstein (Contributed photo)

The UConn Board of Trustees has renamed the Human Rights Institute the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute to honor the legacy and support of alumnus Gary Gladstein ’66 (CLAS), ’08 (HON) and his family.

“For 25 years, Gary Gladstein and his family have been inspiring partners as we built one of the world’s leading academic human rights programs. This is transformative philanthropy at its best. It’s a great honor to inaugurate the Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute,” says Daniel Weiner, UConn’s vice president for global affairs. The board made the change official at its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

Committed to human rights awareness and understanding, he also has volunteered in multiple roles to support the Institute and the UConn Foundation. Most recently, Gladstein and his daughter, Mindy Grafstein, joined a new advisory board that advises the Dodd Human Rights Impact Programs, the public engagement and outreach arm of the Institute.

headshot of gary glastein
Gary Gladstein ’66 (CLAS) ’08 (HON) (Contributed photo)

“Gary Gladstein and his family have been integral to the growth and success of the Institute,” UConn President Radenka Maric says. “Their passion, dedication, and support have laid the foundation for a University-wide program that supports inquiry into the most pressing human rights questions and prepares the next generation of human rights advocates. We are incredibly grateful for their vision and generosity.”

The Institute is one of the nation’s leading academic centers, offering undergraduate majors and minors, a master’s degree, and a graduate certificate in human rights. Founded in 2003, the interdisciplinary program is among the largest in the country, and UConn was the first public university to offer a human rights major. Program graduates go on to hold key humanitarian positions with governments, organizations, and leading universities.

“The Gladstein family’s extraordinary generosity for more than two decades has enabled us to attract stellar faculty from the social sciences, humanities, law, engineering, social work, business, and fine arts. These faculty have helped to define this interdisciplinary field,” Institute Director Kathryn Libal says.

A graduate of Bassick High School in Bridgeport, Gladstein majored in economics at UConn and went on to earn an MBA at Columbia University. He built a long career in finance, capping off his career as a partner and the chief operating officer of Soros Fund Management.

A major UConn benefactor, he has given close to $11.6 million to support UConn, including $9.5 million to support human rights initiatives. He began his human rights legacy in 1998, honoring his late wife with the Marsha Lilien Gladstein Visiting Professorship in Human Rights. He credits Marsha with sparking the family’s interest in human rights. Marsha, a kindergarten teacher in the Bridgeport school system, and later a tutor for children with special needs, was inspired by that work.

In 2001, Gladstein went on to establish the Human Rights Fund at UConn, followed by the Judi and Gary Gladstein Distinguished Chair in Human Rights, and the Gary and Phyllis Gladstein Fund for the Human Rights Institute. Recently, the family also generously contributed to the creation of the Wiktor Osiatyński Chair in Human Rights.

“I am a proud alumnus of UConn and wanted to give back to the University that helped develop all aspects of my life,” Gladstein says. “Respect for human rights has always been a major concern to me. With the increasing challenges facing our society, I saw my support as an opportunity to educate current and future generations about the importance of human rights.

“Education in human rights is vital in building a better society where we can live together in peace and prosperity,” he adds. “Watching UConn progress to become one of the premiere human rights centers in the world during this period of great need has given me so much satisfaction.”

Richard Wilson, a board of trustees distinguished professor of law and anthropology and Gladstein Distinguished Chair of Human Rights, praises the Gladsteins’ legacy at UConn.

“UConn’s Human Rights Institute has gained strength in the past 20 years, projecting a vision of an interdisciplinary approach that comprehends human rights in their historical, social, and political contexts,” Wilson says. “This success is due in no small part to the support of Gary Gladstein and his family. The naming of the Institute reflects the remarkable leadership role they have played.”