NDNU Dedicates New Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement, March 19

Belmont, CA, March 13, 2008 — NDNU will celebrate the life of Sister Dorothy Stang, SND, with the dedication of the Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement, designed to preserve the values of social justice and sustainability for which the 73-year-old nun laid down her life.

Increasing community awareness, dialogue, and activism involving social and ecological change was the life’s work of Sr. Stang. The Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and NDNU alumna ‘64, was murdered in February 2005 by hired gunmen in the Amazon state of Para, Brazil, where she spent 39 years working as a missionary to preserve the land of the poor in the Amazon rainforest. The center will advance Sr. Stang’s mission by connecting the University to the community via partnerships, seminars, volunteer opportunities, and active participation in social justice and sustainability issues.

In addition to the dedication of the new center on March 19 at 6 p.m. in Ralston Hall Mansion, there will be inspirational readings regarding Sr. Stang’s life including an original poem by Leroy Moore, as well as illuminating song and music. The “Guardian of Justice Award” will also be presented to Rev. Glenda Hope, a well-known Tenderloin activist who’s helped San Francisco’s poor and homeless for more than 30 years.

“Through collaboration and partnership, the center will provide leadership and opportunities for NDNU and the community to develop an enhanced understanding of critical social issues, a deepened sense of civic commitment, and positive social change,” said NDNU Acting President, Judi Greig.

NDNU will also introduce its Bonner Student Leaders and Community-Based Learning Scholars Program designed to enrich the overall educational experience by engaging students in ongoing service work. Established in 1997, the Bonner Foundation works with more than 50 institutions nationwide that have begun chapters of the Bonner Leader Program. The program emphasizes commitments such as social justice, civic engagement, spiritual exploration, diversity, community building, and international perspective. Students receive scholarships in return for making a two-year commitment to the program and completing about 240 hours of service and 60 hours of leadership development each year.

“We believe the Dorothy Stang Center will be an invaluable resource for faculty and students who want to engage with the community in a way that honors the values that ennobled Dorothy Stang’s work and life,” said Don Stannard-Friel, Ph.D., NDNU professor of sociology and director of the center. “Our responsibility is to emphasize the educational dimension of that work. We have already enrolled our first class of Bonner leaders. These students will organize and lead groups of students in planning and carrying out programs that support the center’s ideals.”

The center’s future plans include facilitating a Dorothy Stang Distinguished Scholars program that funds and coordinates annual visiting scholars who teach and promote the central concerns of the center; facilitating a Dorothy Stang Fellows program, providing support for NDNU faculty who take on leadership activities that support the educational mission of the center, and creating an exchange program with international organizations, and with NDNU’s sister universities in Washington D.C., Boston, and Liverpool, England.

“Dorothy embodies the qualities of the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and models the hallmarks of NDNU,” said Sr. Roseanne Murphy, NDNU’s Executive Director of Planned Giving. “Her spirit lives on in the hearts of the people who have found their rights and are determined to continue her work for justice and peace in troubled areas throughout the world.”

For more information regarding the dedication of the Dorothy Stang Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement, contact Dr. Stannard-Friel at (650) 508-3770. The historic Ralston Hall Mansion is located on the University campus at 1500 Ralston Avenue in Belmont.