Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in Nigeria to promote disease prevention, 2007. Photo courtesy of The Carter Center.
In a move to emphasize its core values, George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution announced on Tuesday that it is dedicating itself to peace and social justice with the adoption of a name dedicated to the Carter legacy: the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution.
The name change serves as a tribute to the Carters’ steadfast commitment to peacemaking through nonviolence and the transformative role of dialogue and diplomacy in conflict resolution. It also serves to recognize that the school has grown and changed in reputation and scope since its birth in 1981. The move comes as an acknowledgment that the Carters’ devotion to peace and human rights reflects the values of both the school and Mason as a whole.
“By becoming the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, we’ll be starting the next phase of our journey as an institution committed to furthering both the research and practice of conflict resolution and peacebuilding,” said Alpaslan Özerdem, dean of the school. “In this effort, we will be taking the Carters’ unwavering dedication to peace as our beacon and our guide. It’s a great honor to be leading a school named after one of the greatest peacemakers of our times.”
Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change on Feb. 27. The school plans a series of events in September that will include other Mason colleges and schools to celebrate the new phase for the school and the Carters’ legacy on human rights, democracy, gender equality and global health.
“The renaming of our world-renowned peace and conflict studies school after Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, two individuals with a storied legacy in conflict resolution, is a great honor for George Mason University,” said Interim President Anne Holton. “Their commitment and contributions to social justice, freedom, human rights, and peaceful conflict resolution resonate with our university’s own dedication to accessibility, diversity, and academic excellence.”
As president, Jimmy Carter was key in the 1978 Camp David Accords, which paved the way for the signing of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts.
As a couple, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have dedicated their lives to serving others, whether it be through work with Habitat for Humanity or teaching Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church.
Mason has led the way in offering degree programs and dedicated studies in conflict analysis and resolution. Over the decades, its programs have expanded to offer undergraduate studies, master’s degrees, graduate certificates and the world’s first PhD program in conflict resolution.
The renaming is part of a $10 million campaign to support teaching, research and practice at the school. So far $4.4 million has been raised, including a $2 million gift from Steve Cumbie and Drucie French, who are among the school’s earliest and longest supporters.
“The number of graduates the school has produced is impressive,” Cumbie said at the time of the gift, “but we need even more people to go into this field.”
March 10, 2020 / by Anna Stolley Persky