Even before the creation of the Human Rights Center, University of Dayton faculty and staff were heavily involved in dialogue and action surrounding human rights. Since 1997, the University has held global conferences on emerging human rights and humanitarian issues. These events produced tangible results, such as the publication of the book Children's Human Rights and the creation of the Welcome Dayton Plan, the area's immigrant-friendly city initiative.
At the 2013 Social Practice of Human Rights Conference, Curran heightened this focus on human rights, announcing the University's commitment to establishing the Human Rights Center.
"The Human Rights Center was a culmination of 20 years of work by multiple faculty and staff, but it was really President Curran's leadership that made the difference … he pulled the existing pieces together into a center with its own identity," said Executive Director Camilo Pérez-Bustillo.