Renowned Peacemaker Speaks at Graduation Ceremony

Commencement speaker Harold H. Saunders

More than 4,500 graduating students, parents and guests attended Susquehanna University’s 153rd Commencement ceremony on May 15, when 469 students were awarded degrees. Commencement speaker Harold H. Saunders, director of international affairs at the Kettering Foundation, founder and president of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (IISD), and former U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, addressed the graduates and their guests.

Saunders is the architect of Sustained Dialogue, “a public peace process” designed to change relationships among those involved in deep-rooted conflicts. He has employed the process with thought leaders and citizens of the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, Tajikistan and Iraq, among others. IISD is also the institutional base for the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network now operating on some 16 high school and college campuses, including Susquehanna’s.

Saunders challenged simplistic assumptions about the nature of conversation. “Dialogue is not about talking,” he said. “It’s first about listening. Dialogue is one person listening deeply and carefully enough to another to be changed by what she or he hears. That openness of one person to another makes dialogue the essence of genuine relationship. Relationship is at the heart of a peaceful and productive society.”

Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Charlotte Lotz ‘12, Megan McDermott ‘14, Betsy K. Robertson and Karen M. Jones, assistant director of media relations.

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