Answering Curran's Call to Action

Daniel Curran imprinted his bold vision on every University program and initiative, including a signature program of his legacy, the Human Rights Center.Curran presents award

After 14 years at the helm, Daniel Curran can survey the University of Dayton campus — and look far beyond — with pride. Although he would be quick to attribute University accomplishments to others, since his presidential inauguration in 2002:

  • The University has nearly doubled its acreage with two major acquisitions from NCR Corporation.
  • Student retention and entering test scores have progressed to an all-time high.
  • The University's endowment, first-year applications, endowed faculty positions, sponsored research and total assets have each more than doubled.
  • The University has extended its presence to China with the establishment of the University of Dayton China Institute.
  • The overall winning percentage in all sports is better than at any other time in school history.

The list could go on and on.

And in the midst of preparing the stage for his successor, Eric Spina, Curran gave one last boost to a University cause he adamantly furthered throughout his tenure: The University of Dayton's Human Rights Center.

During the last month of his presidency, the University held a celebratory farewell dinner, aimed at paying tribute to him and raising funds in support of the center.Camilo Perez-Bustillo More than 300 community leaders and donors were in attendance — and when all was said and done, over $600,000 of commitments in his honor were designated to the Human Rights Center's endowment.

This flood of support is a game-changer for the center, greatly furthering their current work and enabling them to launch new initiatives. As Executive Director Camilo Pérez-Bustillo said, "This influx of gifts has an absolutely strategic impact. The Human Rights Center owes an extraordinary debt to Dr. Curran … for his leadership, his example and his inspiration."

The center plans to honor Curran's legacy through its programming and work that have changed, and will continue to change, lives. These efforts include:

  • The Brazil Forced Labor Project: Through a partnership with Catholic Relief Services and other organizations, the center helps U.S. companies remove forced labor-tainted products manufactured in Brazil and surrounding nations from their supply chains.
  • Abolition Ohio: Founded in 2011, Abolition Ohio works in partnership with community members and organizations in the Miami Valley and beyond to prevent human trafficking, protect victims and survivors, and help prosecute the criminals responsible through awareness-raising, advocacy, education and research.
  • Malawi Research Practicum: Undergraduate students spend eight weeks immersed in Malawi, Africa, conducting research to address critical human rights and development issues.
  • Impactful Research: Through the Human Rights Studies Program, key research associates are tackling a wide range of human rights issues, including the effects of armed conflicts on women and the violence against young minorities by police or security agents in the United States and Mexico.
  • Border Rights Initiatives: Efforts to combat human rights infringements on immigrants include a partnership with Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Texas, which fosters a community-based project to train human rights defenders along the U.S.–Mexico border.
  • Engagement with Peace Processes: Earlier in the academic year, the center was on the ground monitoring and participating in peace processes in Colombia and the Philippines. The work entailed examining the impact of peace processes on long-standing conflicts, with a focus on how human rights can be at the center of solutions. In support of the work, the center also led a human rights fact-finding mission to Mexico this past November.

Student engagement is intrinsically tied into the center's programming through participation in these initiatives and more, often translating into curriculum development. Human Rights CenterStudents like Camila Robles '17, who was awarded a summer research fellowship to provide assistance to Abolition Ohio, have greatly benefited from the creation and growth of the center — and know they have donors to thank for how much it has thrived.

"The Human Rights Center is a young center full of hope, ideas and possibilities that faces less challenges because of donors' generous contributions," said Robles. "These gifts promote the center's staff and the work they put in every day to make this world better for all."

Thanks to Curran — and those who responded to his call to action — the Human Rights Center is at the forefront of the battle for human rights, making a difference in the lives of people who are unable to fight for themselves.

Bringing It All Together

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 Curranconferences 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.

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