Devoted to the theme of human rights, the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center honors Thomas Dodd's participation as a senior prosecutor in the International Military Tribunal, the first of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Ground was originally broken on the Center in 1993, and the finished building was dedicated by President William J. Clinton on October 15, 1995. Senator Christopher J. Dodd played a crucial role in the Center's development and continues today to support the Center's efforts and programming.
The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center first recognized Dodd's work through a program entitled Fifty Years after Nuremberg: Human Rights and the Rule of Law , which brought to the University of Connecticut campus all the living prosecutors from the tribunal. This was followed by a programmatic focus on human rights, including visits from human rights luminaries such as Madeleine Albright, Oscar Arias and Elie Wiesel. In 1996, the Dodd Center inaugurated the Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Human Rights. The university's accomplishments in furthering the human rights dialogue have been recognized by the a warding of North America's first UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Since 2000, the University has hosted the Marsha Lilien Gladstein Visiting Professor of Human Rights which brings leading human rights scholars to the UConn campus for one semester per year to teach and give a public lecture on key developments in the field. In 2001, an interdisciplinary Human Rights Minor was established at the University. The Human Rights Institute was founded by Gladstein Professor of Human Rights Richard A. Wilson in 2003 to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching across the University.
In 2003, the University awarded the first Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights. Among the recipients of the prize are Louise Arbor, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Justice Richard J. Goldstone of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of Ireland; and Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The facility houses three major departments which further enrich the University's focus in human rights. They include the University Libraries Archives & Special Collections, the Center for Judaic Studies & Contemporary Jewish Life and the Human Rights Institute.