Human rights program named for supporters Richard and Ann Pozen

The family of Richard and Ann Pozen has donated $6 million to human rights education at the University of Chicago, bringing the Pozens’ total giving to the program to $7.5 million. In honor of their generosity, the program will be named the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

“Human rights education and scholarship play an important role in the University, educating students with a global perspective about issues of social justice,” said Provost Eric Isaacs. “The Pozen family’s investment will help students and faculty engage in this vital intellectual enterprise for generations to come.”

“We are honored to lend our name to the advancement of human rights at the University of Chicago,” said Richard Pozen, AB’69. “Each time we interact with the students and faculty affiliated with the program, we are energized by their intelligence, thoughtfulness and ambition. We want this work to continue and have a permanent place at the University.”

Founded 17 years ago, the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights makes human rights education part of the liberal arts core curriculum, which is unusual in higher education, and has earned the program national attention. The program also funds interdisciplinary research in human rights for faculty, undergraduates and graduate students.

“Through this program, human rights scholars and our faculty are educating our students to think and act in ways that are humane, tolerant and enlightened, which is an important element of a liberal arts education,” said John W. Boyer, the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History and dean of the College.

In another milestone for the program, Mark Phillip Bradley, the Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor in History and the College, has been appointed faculty director of the center.

“A rigorous insistence on the interplay of theory and practice is unique to Chicago’s approach to human rights, one that has transformed my own scholarship and teaching over the last decade,” Bradley said. “I am delighted to help lead our efforts to realize the remarkable opportunities that the Pozens’ generous gift offers to deepen the presence of human rights in the intellectual life of the University.”

The Pozen gift endows the current activities of the program and will allow the program to expand to bring more human rights research and practice to Chicago.

Human rights education is a relatively new field, and at UChicago involves a multidisciplinary approach to prepare students for leadership roles in society and for further academic study of global human rights.

Students in the College from across many academic disciplines, including law, history, anthropology and biological sciences, now earn a minor in human rights.

“Integrating human rights into liberal arts education helps our students become better global citizens and informs their future careers, whether as doctors, corporate executives or artists,” said Susan Gzesh, executive director of the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights.

Over the years, the program has hosted visiting scholars, including William Schultz, former executive director of Amnesty International; Justice Albie Sachs, anti-apartheid lawyer and scholar; and Rodolfo Stavenhagen, AB’51, sociologist and former United Nations expert on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Richard and Ann Pozen have been committed to human rights education at UChicago for many years. Past gifts from the Pozen family have funded internships for students and visiting professorships that have driven human rights research, scholarship and dialogue at the university.

The Pozens also have endowed a New Leaders Odyssey Scholarship for low- and middle-income students demonstrating the most promise in human rights work.

They also have hosted gatherings of human rights faculty, staff and students in New York and Washington, D.C, which have helped alumni stay engaged in the mission and growth of the program at UChicago.