Stars shine on USD's new School of Peace Studies

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 17, 2007 – Making peace begins one person at a time and spreads from there. That feeling was echoed by actor and activist Martin Sheen and Dean William (Bill) Headley during the University of San Diego’s launch of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Oct. 17.

“The mandate is to change the world and that begins with ourselves,” Sheen said. “If we can change one individual to make peace with themselves it’s very, very contagious. And once you become comfortable as a peacemaker it becomes something instinctual, because we know very clearly what the alternative is.”

Sheen was joined by Catholic Relief Services President Ken Hackett as special guests for the ceremony to officially inaugurate the new school – the only one of its kind in the nation dedicated to the study of peace and justice.

During his keynote address, Dean Headley charged everyone in the attendance as being peace builders who can take small strides to meet a larger goal of finding solutions to end world conflict. The platform of the school, which includes the established Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice and the Trans-Border Institute, is to educate and empower a young generation of peace builders. It will focus on peacemaking, peace building and peacekeeping efforts as students and world leaders are trained to solve world conflict.

Headley recalled the words of the late Dorothy Day, a social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker movement, when she spoke of the need for an “oasis - the little cell of joy and peace in a hurried world.”

“An oasis is a good metaphor, in some ways, for what we want to do in this new school,” the dean said. “The dictionary defines an oasis as an ‘area in a desert made fertile by groundwater or irrigation.’ It’s here. We have it right here in this building.”

Students from various corners of the world will work together with the common bond of bringing a reality of peace and justice before a global audience.

“Peace has a way of igniting a great light in the world, and it is because there is so much darkness from the violence and the hatred,” said Sheen. “It’s primarily based on fear and ignorance. There are students here from Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya and Palestinian territories. That’s amazing! Can you imagine several Palestinian students coming here with some Israeli students and what their future is going to be? It will not be what it is now.”

USD President Dr. Mary Lyons presented Sheen and Hackett with the university’s first Medal of Peace honors “for their heroic acts on behalf of peace.”

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,500 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The inauguration of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies will bring the university’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Law, Leadership and Education Sciences, and Nursing and Health Science.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.