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Timothy Shriver Appointed UNESCO Chairholder in the Institute of Technology Tralee

Jun 12, 2017

Timothy Shriver Appointed UNESCO Chairholder in the Institute of Technology Tralee

One hundred years since the birth of former US President John F Kennedy, and nearly 50 years since the establishment of Special Olympics by his mother Eunice Kennedy, Dr Timothy Shriver is announced as UNESCO Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in the Institute of Technology Tralee, Ireland.

UNESCO Chairholder Profile: Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D.

Chairman, Special Olympics. UNESCO Chairholder IT Tralee 

Dr Tim Shriver earned his B.A. degree from Yale University, a Master's degree in Religion and Religious Education from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He is a social leader, an educator, author, film producer, and entrepreneur. He is the Chairman of Special Olympics, and in that capacity, he serves with over 5.3 million Special Olympics athletes and their families in 169 countries. Tim is honoured to be the UNESCO Chairholder in the Institute of Technology Tralee and will use this role to advocate for UNESCOs agenda connected with the Chair remit.

Dr Shriver has been a part of an amazing team that has created exciting new Special Olympics programs in athlete leadership, cross-cultural research, health, education, and family support. Among them, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® has become the world’s largest public health examination and education program for people with intellectual disabilities, and Special Olympics Unified Schools has become a powerful new program promoting school-based social inclusion and unified leadership. In addition, he has worked to garner more government support for issues of concern to the Special Olympics community, testifying before the United States Congress and challenging government leaders worldwide to respect the dignity and possibilities of people with intellectual disabilities. This advocacy work with governments will support efforts to implement the Kazan Action Plan in the coming years following MINEPSVI.

As part of his passion for promoting the gifts of the marginalized, Shriver has harnessed the power of Hollywood to share stories of inspiration and change, co-producing DreamWorks Studios’ 1997 release, “Amistad,” and Disney Studios’ 2000 release, “The Loretta Claiborne Story.” He is Executive Producer of “The Ringer,” a Farrelly Brothers’ film, and “Front of the Class,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie. He has produced or co-produced shows for ABC, TNT, and NBC networks, and made broadcast appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Meet the Press, CNN, the Stephen Colbert Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher. In 2014, Shriver wrote the New York Times bestseller Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most, where he shares the life-changing impact of people with intellectual disabilities and their capacity to inspire others to find out about what matters most.

Before joining Special Olympics as Chairman in 1996, Shriver was and remains a leading educator focusing on the social and emotional factors in learning. In addition to his UNESCO Chairholder role, he co-founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading research organization in the field of social and emotional learning.

Dr Shriver is the recipient of numerous honours, including honorary degrees from Loyola University, New England College, Albertus Magnus College, University of Connecticut, Niagara University, University of Illinois, and Villanova University; the Medal of the City of Athens, Greece; the Order de Manuel Amador Guerrera of the Republic of Panama; the Connecticut Citizen of the Year Award; the U.S. Surgeon General’s Medallion; the Lions Humanitarian Award; the Quincy Jones Humanitarian Award; the Children’s Hospital Health System’s Friend of Children Award; the “Bammy” Special Achievement in Education Award; and the 2015 Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Distinguished American Award. In 2011, he was recognized by The Huffington Post as one of the top 100 Game Changers and in 2016, he was named to the Oprah Winfrey Network’s SuperSoul 100 list of trailblazers whose vision and life’s work are bringing a higher level of consciousness to the world around them. He has also authored numerous articles in leading publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Commonweal Magazine.

UNESCO Chairholder Shriver is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, President of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, serves on the Board of the WPP Group, LLC, and is a co-founder of Lovin’ Scoopful Ice Cream Company. He and his wife, Linda Potter, reside in the Washington, D.C. area and have five adult children.

Commenting on his appointment Dr Timothy Shriver, chairman of Special Olympics International, said he was “honoured” to take on the role as UNESCO Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in the Institute of Technology Tralee. “Special Olympics has always had a great relationship with the Institute, and indeed UNESCO. This appointment gives us the opportunity to join our efforts to build a world that accepts and provides for diversity as a norm. This year is a very important one for UNESCO. In July they will convene government ministers from around the world, along with senior officials of sport, in Kazan, Russia to seek commitments for the establishment of a comprehensive vision of inclusive access for all in physical education, physical activity and sport. As Chairholder, I fully support this agenda. Our Chair in Tralee, together with Special Olympics International and all other partners of the Chair, will be at the forefront of supporting inclusive access to health and wellbeing, communities, education, economy and society aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030,”he said.

Dr Oliver Murphy, President of the Institute, said, “Dr Shriver brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role. Through the power and reach of his connections he will fast-track the inclusion of people with disabilities as a priority policy and practice area globally. The appointment of Dr Timothy Shriver as UNESCO Chairholder marks a very proud moment for the Institute, we look forward to welcoming him in Tralee later this year to see the new €16.5m home for our UNESCO Chair under construction”.

Irina Bukova Director General of UNESCO said “Since the signature of the agreement establishing the Irish UNESCO Chair on “Transforming the lives of people with disabilities through physical education, sport fitness and recreation” in 2013, the cooperation between the Institute of Technology Tralee (IT Tralee) and UNESCO has been both continuous and fruitful.

The tremendous and inspirational work led by the Chair to mainstream diversity and achieve “UniversAbility” has enhanced the inclusive approach promoted by UNESCO in the field, as highlighted in the 2015 “International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport”, but also in the discussions of the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport (CIGEPS).

The successful completion of key international projects by the Chair has demonstrated the feasibility and the benefits of adopting an inclusive approach to physical activity all around the world. These encouraging achievements contribute to the normalization of inclusivity in the common mindset and UNESCO is proud to concretely participate in this change, notably through the roll-out of the Quality Physical Education (QPE) policy project in five pilot countries.

Conceiving inclusion as a journey, we warmly welcome and look forward to strengthening collaboration with the new UNESCO Chairholder, Mr Tim Shriver, to continue promoting the values of sport which sit at the heart of our work and to ensure an inclusive approach of sport during the momentum created around the Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport, MINEPS VI, which will be held in Kazan, Russian Federation, from 13 to 15 July 2017.

Quotation from the Permanent Delegation of Ireland to UNESCO & the OECD:

"The Permanent Delegation of Ireland to the OECD and UNESCO welcomes Mr. Tim Shriver, the newly appointed UNESCO Chairholder on "Transforming the lives of people with disabilities through physical education, sport fitness and recreation" at the Institute of Technology, Tralee. The Delegation has always been supportive of the Chair's important work which, since its establishment in 2013, has transcended areas of government action in education, justice, health, sport, tourism and foreign affairs. We look forward with optimism to Mr. Shriver and IT Tralee's continued work in creating a landscape in which all people will have the opportunity to experience the benefits of quality physical education, physical activity and sport in their lives." (Picture, Irish Ambassador to the OECD and UNESCO, Dermot Nolan.)

The UNESCO Chair team are delighted with this new appointment and look forward to continuing to advance the Chairs work. As always, we welcome collaborations from colleagues across the Institute and are very thankful to all those who have joined us on our journey to date.