$1.5 million gift paves path for new peace and justice studies professorship

Distinguished alumna and member of Gettysburg College’s President’s Advisory Circle, Daria Lo Presti Wallach ’76 is a firm believer in the value of the liberal arts—that such an education is the foundation of a satisfying and rewarding life. It is this notion, and Wallach’s heartfelt desire to advance the liberal arts mission at Gettysburg, that recently inspired the generous establishment of a $1.5 million endowment to create The Daria L. & Eric J. Wallach Professorship of Peace and Justice Studies.

Daria Lo Presti Wallach '76

“The ability to think critically, to adapt quickly, to problem solve thoughtfully and innovatively, and to communicate effectively—the hallmarks of a liberal arts education—are needed in every industry and never lose their currency,” said Wallach, who pioneered a successful career in finance, including 28 years at Lord Abbett & Co LLC, where she became the first woman to serve as a managing partner. “Likewise, peace and justice studies has enduring value, and will no doubt become ever more essential in the future. I applaud the College’s visionary commitment to peace and justice studies, and am pleased to contribute to advancing the important work of preparing students for lives of meaning and consequence.”

At Gettysburg College, peace and justice studies is a multidisciplinary minor that explores the causes and nature of conflict and war, the connections between violence, terrorism, war and social life, and the models of peacebuilding, healing and reconciliation in the resolution and transformation of conflict. Students who minor in peace and justice studies explore constructive and creative strategies for redressing injustices and reducing levels of violence.

“Daria, via her gift, demonstrates to me that there are people of goodwill who want to invest in our student-leaders. An investment in peace and justice is an investment in the crafting of a better world,” said Director of Peace and Justice Studies and Africana studies Prof. Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams. “This gift will allow us to offer programming, training and workshops to students in conflict resolution, restorative justice, mediation, and organizing.”

Professor Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams

Provost Christopher Zappe has nominated Williams to be the inaugural holder of the professorship, and President Iuliano will advance the nomination, with his support, for the Board’s consideration and approval in its February meeting.

During the period of their appointment, the Daria L. and Eric J. Wallach Professor of Peace and Justice Studies will teach and maintain an active research agenda in peace and justice studies. They will also promote peace and justice programming for the College community in coordination with other programs, such as the Eisenhower Institute, the Center for Public Service, and the Garthwait Leadership Center, for which funds will be available.

“On behalf of Gettysburg College and our entire community, I want to express our heartfelt thanks to Daria Wallach for her generous gift. By adding their names to this important faculty position, she and Eric have demonstrated their unwavering belief in the potential of our students to advance the greater good,” said President Bob Iuliano. “This generation of students is eager to raise its voice, to be heard, and to make a difference. At Gettysburg College—with this level of support for such an extraordinary program—we indeed will teach them how.”

Williams is honored to have been nominated to serve as the inaugural Daria L. and Eric J. Wallach Professor of Peace and Justice Studies, and looking forward, he has broad goals for the peace and justice studies program. Not only does he want to uplift student voices, but he also wants to create a national fellowship in peace and justice leadership development, and fund innovative and cutting-edge student research on the issues that confront us. But above all else, he wants to see legions of former students across the world doing the hard but rewarding work to co-create a sustainably peaceful planet.

“I tell my students here that I challenge them fully because I want them to be maximally prepared for life after Gettysburg College. I want them, in any career in which they find themselves, to work in and with communities for peace and justice,” said Williams, who is also a faculty affiliate in education and an advisory council member for international and global studies, public policy, and civil war era studies. “My dream is to create an Institute for Peace and Justice here in a place called Gettysburg—our college should be known nationally for peace and justice. Our history and location are compelling backdrops for this vision.”

Learn how the peace and justice studies program at Gettysburg College, now bolstered by Wallach’s endowment, teaches students the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that promote life-long reflection and peace-building.

By Molly Foster
Photos by Miranda Harple
Posted: 11/02/20