Trinity College has received a $4 million gift from Everett “Ev” Elting Jr. ’58, P’85, P’87 to support Trinity’s human rights program – the first of its kind in an American college for Liberal Arts – which greatly enhances the opportunities for college students to study and ultimately shape the cause of human rights around the world.
Elting’s gift comes more than two decades after he donated $500,000 to create the program that will integrate the study of human rights into the college’s liberal arts curriculum. Inspired by the impact of the program, Elting has dedicated his new donation to establishing the Elting Fund for Human Rights and Global Citizenship. This latest commitment builds on the success of the human rights program and provides additional resources for interdisciplinary studies. His gift will ensure that Trinity students will continue to seek solutions to some of humanity’s most intractable problems for decades to come.
“Ev’s transformative gift will significantly enhance Trinity’s impact as a leader in undergraduate human rights education,” said Trinity Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Sonia Cardenas. “Students from across the academic spectrum will deepen their appreciation for human rights and global citizenship in their lives. You will experience unparalleled learning opportunities in this tremendously important area. Finally, the Elting Fund for Human Rights and Global Citizenship will also support a professorship.”
Elting’s own passion for human rights and commitment to empathy, responsibility and global citizenship began at Trinity more than 60 years ago. Studies in art history, philosophy, religion, linguistics, ethics and economics sparked his interest in different peoples and cultures. “At Trinity, my interests broadened and provided me with the foundation for a much more comfortable and enlightened life,” he said. “I’m a strong believer in liberal arts education in small schools.”
Elting was able to combine his diverse interests – in business and humanity – by investing both time and philanthropy in serving human rights causes while building a successful career. After Trinity, through influential advertising and marketing work, he rose to become President and CEO of Gray Advertising in Canada, which under his leadership became the fourth largest advertising company in the country.
Traveling around the globe during his career nurtured his inspiration, which was nurtured at Trinity to learn more about others. After retirement, this interest only grew. Elting and his wife Joanne have traveled to more than 100 countries. “Travelling,” he said, “is the ultimate way to understand that we’re all better off and happier when we take care of each other.”
For its first two decades, Trinity’s human rights program—through its coursework, research, and internships with leading human rights organizations in the United States and around the world—has trained hundreds of Trinity students with the ambition to understand and change the world. Her studies have led her to explore everything from resource wars on the African continent to mass incarcerations in the United States, with issues of human dignity and universal rights always at the heart of her endeavors.
“The growth and success of our program is a tribute to our amazing students who are passionate leaders on campus and in their communities,” said Benjamin C. Carbonetti, director of the human rights program and associate professor of human rights. “A notable percentage of our students go on to work with organizations and institutions that are directly involved in the cause of human rights. This generous gift will help ensure even more students take advantage of the opportunity to gain valuable experience before graduation, which makes me very optimistic about the future.”
Recent graduates of the program include:
- Ana Stambolic ’21, a Yenching scholar pursuing her master’s degree in China at Peking University’s Yenching Academy with the goal of becoming an expert on Chinese foreign policy.
- Kabelo Motsoeneng ’20, whose thesis grew into a full-length novel exploring loss and queer identity in the context of South Africa, and who is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan.
- Marlén Miranda ’20, currently a Program Associate at the Pan American Development Foundation and a 2020 US Student Fulbright Binational Internship Grant recipient in Mexico City (cancelled due to the pandemic) who is pursuing a career in business and international consulting.
For Elting, his investment in support of Trinity’s human rights program is deliberately timed to coincide with what he sees as a turning point in global history. “I believe,” Elting said, “at this time when political and social dissent is rampant in our country, nothing is more important for the citizens of the United States and the world than to benefit and thrive through greater understanding and empathy for one another.”
During the 2021-22 academic year, 180 Trinity students were enrolled in human rights program courses, including 31 majors and three minors in human rights studies.
Learn more on the human rights program at Trinity College.