A Unique Space with a Unique Purpose
Conceived and dedicated to preserve and extend the legacy of Connecticut Senator and Nuremberg International Military Tribunal Executive Trial Counsel Thomas J. Dodd (1907-1971), the Center was purpose built to provide a technologically-advanced environment for the preservation and care of valuable research materials, house critical university programs, and provide a forum for public events and exhibitions.
U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, second from right, consults outside the Dodd Center with Universtiy officials (from left) Heather Ricker-Gilbert, Robert Hudd, Peter McFadden, Thomas Callahan, Linda Perrone and Edward Allenby.
Through the support and initiative of University President John T. Casteen III and Senator Christopher J. Dodd and other members of the Dodd family, the Dodd Center was proposed and quickly became a priority for the Governor, General Assembly, and the University.
Designed by Fletcher-Thompson, Inc. of Bridgeport, the building won the American School & University Architectural Award Gold Citation and has served as a model for archival, research, and public programming facilities.
The building was completed in 1995 and formally dedicated on October 15 at a ceremony presided over by University President Harry J. Hartley, US Ambassador to Uruguay Thomas J. Dodd, Jr., Governor John G. Rowland, and President Bill Clinton.
Fifty Years After Nuremberg: Human Rights and the Rule of Law
Dedication of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
October 15 – 18, 1995
The Dodd Center Dedication featuring President Clinton was the first of a series of events designed to both celebrate the opening of the building and commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Nuremberg war crimes trials, including the International Military Tribunal.
In addition to President Clinton, distinguished speakers included US Ambassador to the UN Madeleine K. Albright, former President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias Sanchez, United Negro College Fund President William H. Gray, III, New York Times photojournalist Dith Pran, Nuremberg attorneys Benjamin Ferencz, Whitney Harris, Henry King, Jr., Robert King, Thomas Lambert, Jr., Walter Rockler, and Drexel Sprecher, and Holocaust survivors Ruth Clemens, Simon Konover, Sigmund Strochlitz, and Elie Wiesel.
Other events included a world premier performance of the orchestral piece Remembrance Day: Soliloquy for a Passing Century by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Morton Gould, film screenings of movies such as Judgement at Nuremberg (1961) and A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. the United States (1992), and special gallery exhibitions in the Dodd Center, Jorgensen Gallery, William Benton Museum of Art and elsewhere on campus.
The establishment of the Dodd Center provided the foundation for the University of Connecticut to become a global leader in human rights.
Since 1996, the Dodd Center has brought the most important and influential political, moral, and intellectual leaders in the field of human rights to deliver the Raymond & Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture, including Senator George J. Mitchell, Ambassador Samantha Power, Prof. Michael Ignatieff, and activist Kerry Kennedy. The Dodd Center also awards the biennial Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights to an individual and/or group who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights worldwide. Previous award winners include Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Business and Human Rights Resource Center. More recently, the Dodd Center has begun new initiatives focused on promoting human rights education in primary and secondary schools, and on advancing respect for human rights within the business sector.
From its opening, the Dodd Center has housed the Archives & Special Collections Department, which features an extensive human rights collection, alongside important collections in Connecticut political, business, and labor history, children’s literature, and alternative press; and the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish life, which promotes the academic and scholarly study of Jewish history, culture, and civilization, in recognition of the need to bring that study to a general audience.
As the focus of human rights activities at UConn, the Dodd Center is also home to the Human Rights Institute, which offers comprehensive undergraduate and graduate human rights academic programs, and world-class faculty pursuing research in a broad range of human rights fields; and also housed the UNESCO Chair and Institute of Comparative Human Rights before its closure, the mission of which was to bridge the gap between human rights ideals, theories and practices, and to promote international understanding based on a culture of human rights, peace, democratic pluralism, and tolerance.
As we look to the next twenty years, the Dodd Center will continue to foster a culture of human rights in Connecticut and around the world.