William Schulz, former executive director of Amnesty International USA, has been selected as the Class of 2007 commencement speaker, the college announced today.
Schulz led the U.S. section of Amnesty International, the world’s oldest human rights organization, from 1994 to 2006, after serving eight years as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. During his time with Amnesty, Schulz worked in Liberia, Northern Ireland, Sudan, Cuba and locations throughout the United States.
Laurel Dreher, vice president of the senior class, said Schulz will send graduates an important message about responding to human rights issues in today’s world.
“Human rights is such a universal issue that it is applicable not only to our generation, but for generations to come,” she said.
A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., and a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Schulz was named “humanist of the year” by the American Humanist Association and honored in the Vanity Fair Hall of Fame of the World Nongovernmental Organization Leaders.
The commencement speaker is selected with input from the senior class, the senior executive board and administrators, according to senior Alexander Moore, president of the Class of 2007. He said processing results of a commencement survey given to seniors last fall slowed the selection process.
“Getting everyone on the same page and developing consensus takes a while,” he said.
Brian McAree, vice president of student affairs and campus life, said Schulz was an ideal selection because of his contributions to human rights around the world.
“It is really important that our seniors hear from someone like Dr. Schulz about how they can make significant contributions, both large and small, to their communities,” McAree said.
Moore said Schulz’s experience as an academic and activist was a good fit with what students said they wanted to hear at graduation.
“People didn’t want the same old tired political message,” he said. “They wanted someone who would be universal, but valuable … we think he embodies that.”
Commencement will be held May 20 at Butterfield Stadium.