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This story originally appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of Voyages

As a liberal arts institution, CNU seeks opportunities to support interdisciplinary learning, cultural understanding and student involvement. This takes place both inside and outside the classroom as the University promotes service, leadership, intellectual inquiry, and the exploration of social and civic values.

To that end, the new Reiff Center at Christopher Newport University will support the study of genocide, human rights, human-rights violations, conflict and conflict resolution. The Center is named in honor of Dr. Theodore R. Reiff (pictured center), a retired physician who has been professor of medicine at a number of medical schools, including Eastern Virginia Medical School. The Center adopts a broad focus stressing the historical, political, social and international context of these issues.

The Center’s establishment is the result of a longstanding collegial and friendly relationship between Reiff and Dr. Anthony Santoro (pictured right), CNU President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor of History. “Dr. Reiff and I worked together for years on the National Genocide Education Project in which we are still both active,” notes Santoro, who will serve as inaugural chair of the Center’s board of advisers. “What brought us together was our mutual interest in exploring the horrors perpetrated by Hitler’s regime and the abuse of human rights in general throughout history. I encouraged Dr. Reiff to contribute resources to initiate a Genocide Studies Endowment, which then became the forerunner of the new center.”

Dr. Tina Kempin Reuter (pictured left), Associate Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics, will serve as the Center’s director. Her extensive body of research has focused on human-rights issues and violations, ethnic conflict, genocide studies, and conflict management.

“I believe the Reiff Center and its related programs are important additions to campus life, both academically and with regard to student engagement for human rights and conflict resolution,” she says. “The Center will create wonderful opportunities for our students to become involved in social and humanitarian causes and will foster understanding of international and domestic political, economic and social issues facing our society today. I am very excited and grateful to be able to take part in establishing its programs and look forward to working with students, staff and faculty to give the Reiff Center a home at CNU.”

Core issues studied by the Center will include the legal, cultural, social and political basis of human rights; the causes and nature of violence; societal conflict; war between states; and methods of conflict management, peace implementation and reconciliation on the personal, group, national and international levels.

Students also will have the opportunity to conduct independent research or research projects with faculty affiliated with the Center and to present their findings via academic conferences and scholarly publications. An annual $1,000 Santoro Prize will honor the best scholarly or creative student project related to the Center’s mission.

Additional hallmarks of the Reiff Center will include internships and service learning. Students will gain real-world experience through internships with local, national and international institutions; nonprofit organizations; government agencies; and private companies with missions related to the Center’s focus.

The Center will seek opportunities to partner with other campus departments and programs to raise awareness and work toward common goals. It will also serve as the new organizational home of CNU’s program in international conflict management, established in 2009 to study peace processes in deeply rooted international and internal conflicts.