The University Of San Diego Set To Award Medal Of Peace To Actor And Humanitarian Forest Whitaker

SAN DIEGO: University of San Diego President James T. Harris III, DEd, and Kroc School Dean Patricia Marquez, PhD, will honor Forest Whitaker with the distinguished Medal of Peace on Thursday, April 5, 6 p.m. Mr. Whitaker was selected for the distinguished honor in recognition of his international work as a humanitarian and peace builder and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation. 

The USD Medal of Peace was created to recognize extraordinary individuals with a proven track record of contributions in peace and justice, locally and abroad. Since the founding of the Kroc School in 2007, the USD Medal of Peace has been given three times to actor/activist Martin Sheen, former Catholic Relief Services President and Executive Director Ken Hackett, and in 2012, to the Dalai Lama. 

“This year, as we mark the tenth anniversary since the founding of the Kroc School at the University of San Diego, we wanted to recognize someone who has had a tremendous impact on the lives of thousands of men, women, and children globally,” said Dean Marquez. “While Mr. Whitaker is well known for his award-winning work in front of the camera, far fewer people know about the phenomenal work he has done through the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative. We wanted to shine a light on his global work, and thank him for his fearless leadership.” 

“We believe Mr. Whitaker embodies the idea of the peacebuilder of the present and the future as he combines his talents, his career path, and his success to go from inspiration to action,” said President Harris. 

Mr. Whitaker is an actor, producer and director, who has excelled in his industry participating in movies and television series including important issues of our times. In 2006, he won an Oscar and many other awards for his role as the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the film The Last King of Scotland. He also won an Emmy award for his role in the series The Shield

In 2012, Whitaker founded the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization with an international scope and reach. WPDI’s charge is to develop peace-building programs, initiatives, and campaigns that foster peace and reconciliation in disadvantaged and fragile communities throughout the world. The organization’s impact can be felt from parts of Africa to Latin America and the United States. Since its founding, WPDI has helped societies affected by conflict transform into safer communities. Their unique programs provide young people and their communities with the tools necessary to create lasting peace in their environment. These tools are delivered through a unique, holistic mix of conflict resolution, life, and vocational training; information and communication technology instruction; mediation and youth-led community projects; and programs promoting peace through the arts and sports.

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.