Mary King ’62 to Speak at OWU Commencement 2011

Social justice leader, author, and international scholar comes “home”

Mary King ’62. (Photo courtesy of Mary King ’62)

Members of OWU’s Class of 2011, their families, and friends will have an opportunity to hear from one of the University’s most impressive graduates as  Mary King ’62 offers this year’s Commencement address on May 8.

Since King’s days as an undergraduate student at Ohio Wesleyan, she has devoted her life’s work to social justice issues and moving toward a more peaceful society and world.

King is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the United Nations-affiliated University for Peace and is a Distinguished Scholar at the American University Center for Global Peace in Washington, D.C. She also is a Rothermere American Institute Fellow at the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom. King received her doctorate degree in international politics from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth.

“We are pleased to have Ohio Wesleyan alumna Mary King ’62 as this year’s Commencement speaker. Mary’s accomplishments as a distinguished scholar, prizewinning author, and civil rights leader, as well as her lifelong devotion to social justice issues exemplify this University’s commitment to preparing our students to be the next generation of global leaders,” says OWU President Rock Jones.

King’s most recent book, “The New York Times on Emerging Democracies in Eastern Europe,” (Washington, D.C.: Times Reference and CQ Press/Sage, 2009) chronicles the nonviolent transitions that took place in Poland, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states, Serbia, Georgia, and the Ukraine in the later 1980s and early 1990s. In 1988, King won a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award for “Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement,”(New York: William Morrow, 1987) in which she describes her experiences working with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other prominent people involved in the movement.

A Presidential appointee in President Jimmy Carter’s administration, King directed the worldwide operations of the Peace Corps and national volunteer service corps programs in the U.S., and continues to work with Carter as a special advisor. In 2003 in Mumbai, King received the Jamnalal Bajaj International Prize, awarded for the promotion of Gandhian values, joining her with such dignitaries as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat of the United Kingdom. She also was awarded the 2009 El-Hibri Peace Education Prize for outstanding leadership in the practice of nonviolent action and in the field of peace education for her contributions toward social justice in the Middle East. Closer to home, King received Ohio Wesleyan’s highest honor in 1989: the Distinguished Achievement Citation.

In all, King’s work over the years, has connected her with heads of state and government ministers of more than 120 developing countries—experiences that resonate well with OWU’s graduating seniors.

“Mary King has been our top choice from the beginning of the school year,”says Alina Ruzmetova, senior class president. “Dr. King is a truly remarkable individual with so many great achievements. It will be fascinating to listen to her farewell advice to the seniors. I feel it is especially important to have Dr. King here this year because the movements at OWU for the past few years  reflect  her global humanitarian and developmental efforts. Her advice to the Class of 2011 will be invaluable as we transition out of college, on our paths toward local and global leadership.”

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