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Manchester names first Muir Professor of Peace Studies

Elton SkendajManchester University President Dave McFadden today announced the appointment of the University’s first Gladdys Muir Professor of Peace Studies.

It is a $1.5 million endowed professorship; the principal will remain invested and the earnings are intended to secure the position in perpetuity.

Elton Skendaj has a rich background in research and hands-on work with peace organizations. 

“He’s an especially good fit for Manchester because he loves teaching young people how to create a more just and peaceful world,” McFadden said in today’s email to the Manchester community.

A native of Albania, Skendaj started his journey in peace studies by witnessing conflict in the Western Balkans. That background inspires his current research program, which addresses how international and local actors can build political institutions that sustain peace and justice in post-war societies.

He explores that theme in his book, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions.

Skendaj comes to Manchester from the University of Miami. His work at Manchester as an associate professor will include a first-year seminar about the effectiveness of nonviolent techniques in achieving peace and justice in the world.

 “The addition of this position strengthens our ability to educate students across disciplines and it enhances our reputation as the world’s first undergraduate peace studies program and a global leader in peace studies education,” McFadden said.

Gladdys Muir launched the world's first undergraduate peace studies program at Manchester in 1948. Her groundbreaking program, which examined issues of interpersonal conflict and structural injustice, was so visionary that 23 years passed before another U.S. institution followed her lead.

A Manchester Peace Studies Advisory Council first recommended the endowed professorship 25 years ago, in 1992. Major support came in 2002 from Lilly Endowment Inc., through its Plowshares program, followed by gifts over the years from individual donors.

MU met its $1.5 million goal for the endowed chair in the final hours of 2015, and a national search began in the second half of 2016.

Skendaj earned his bachelor’s degree from the American University in Bulgaria, a master’s degree in peace studies from the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame, and a master’s and Ph.D. in government from Cornell University.

He will work alongside Katy Gray Brown, associate professor of philosophy and peace studies. She will continue as director of MU’s Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution.

About Manchester University
Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to 1,600 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training, a Master of Pharmacogenomics and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy. It has students from 20 nations and is home to the world's first undergraduate peace studies program, established in 1948. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu.

Aug. 2, 2017