POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Author, minister, and humanitarian William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, will deliver the address at the 142nd Vassar College commencement exercises, on Sunday, May 28, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., at the college's outdoor amphitheater. An ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, Schulz came to Amnesty International after serving fifteen years with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), the last eight as president.
William Schulz was praised in the June 2002 New York Review of Books as the person who, "…has done more than anyone in the American human rights movement to make human rights issues known in the United States." His broad overseas and domestic initiatives with Amnesty International have included a September 2004 mission to Darfur, Sudan, to help redress the humanitarian crisis in that region. He has also led Amnesty missions to investigate atrocities committed during the Liberian civil war, and to insist that human rights protections be incorporated into the Northern Ireland peace process.
While president of the UUA, Schulz led the first visit by a U.S. Congressman to post-revolutionary Romania, two weeks after the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. That delegation was instrumental in the subsequent improvement in the rights of the country's religious and ethnic minorities. He also led fact-finding missions to the Middle East and Northern Ireland, and was instrumental in his denomination's opposition to U. S. military aid to El Salvador.
From 1985-93 Schulz served on the Council of the International Association for Religious Freedom, the oldest international interfaith organization in the world. Throughout his career he has been outspoken and written widely in his opposition to the death penalty, and in his support for women's rights, gay and lesbian rights and racial justice.
A highly regarded public speaker, Schulz has lectured at the Yale Political Union, Oxford University, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, and Northwestern , among many colleges. He has also taught a seminar on the role of religion in international social and political conflict at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Schulz is the author of several books, including In Our Own Best Interests: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All, and Tainted Legacy: 9-11 and the Ruin of Human Rights. He has also published and been quoted widely in the press, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and The Nation. On radio and television, he has appeared on 60 Minutes, 20/20, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, ABC World News Tonight, Larry King Live, Nightline, and on various BBC, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FoxNews, and Bloomberg News programs.
Among his numerous honors, Schulz received the 2002 Human Rights Award from Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, the Harry S. Truman Award for International Leadership from the Kansas City, MO, United Nations Association, the Cranbrook Peace Award from the Cranbrook Peace Foundation, the Humanitarian Award from Marylhurst University in Portland, OR. Notably, he has been honored across the religious spectrum, having been named one of the "World's 365 Most Influential People" by the The Pray 365 Project, and chosen "Humanist of the Year" by the American Humanist Association.
Schulz is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Oberlin College, holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago, and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Meadville/Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago. He was awarded an honorary D. D. from Meadville/Lombard in 1987 and an honorary L. H. D. from Nova Southeastern University in 1995.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.