Champions of human rights, American cities to address UT graduates May 5

May 1, 2012 | Events, UToday
By Staff

Two former politicians who now lead preservation efforts for human rights and U.S. cities, respectively, will speak at The University of Toledo’s commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 5, in Savage Arena.

At 9:30 a.m., Dr. Maurice Manning, president of the Irish Human Rights Commission, will address graduates of the colleges of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Visual and Performing Arts; Engineering; Adult and Lifelong Learning; and Nursing.

Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities, will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony for graduates of the College of Business and Innovation and the Judith Herb College of Education, Health Science and Human Service.

The University will confer honorary doctor of humane letters degrees on both men.

There are 2,790 candidates for degrees from the spring and summer semesters from eight of the University’s colleges. There are 821 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates, and 1,969 for bachelor’s and associate degrees.

The events will be webcast live at


Manning has been president of the Irish Human Rights Commission since 2002 and was chair of the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions from 2006 to 2011. He has worked extensively with the United Nations and Council of Europe on human rights issues, and has been outspoken in his pursuit of human rights for society’s vulnerable: travelers, migrants, asylum seekers, women, children, prisoners, people with disabilities, and those in poverty.

He is serving as the fifth chancellor of the National University of Ireland and as adjunct professor of politics and international relations at the University of Dublin.

As an academic, he established a reputation for his teaching, his closeness to students and his numerous publications. Among the last are those on modern Irish politics, including The Blueshirts, Irish Political Parties, James Dillon – A Biography and (as joint editor) The Houses of the Oireachtas – Parliament in Ireland. He is also chair of the Publishing Committee of the Institute of Public Administration.

Moreover, he has applied his political knowledge in even larger arenas. Manning, who has been visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of West Florida and a member of the Governing Authority of the European University Institute at Florence, Italy, was a member of the Irish Parliament from 1981 to 2002. During that time, he served as Minority Leader and later Majority Leader in the Irish Senate, was a member of the New Ireland Forum and a founding member of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body.

A member of council of the Royal Irish Academy, Manning recently was appointed to chair the expert committee of historians to advise the Irish government and parliament on the commemoration of significant and sensitive centenaries such as the 1916 Easter Uprising.

Born in Bagenalstown, County Carlow, Ireland, Manning was educated at De La Salle Schools Bagenalstown, Rockwell College, University College Dublin and the University of Strathclyde.

Manning, while distinct from Dr. Maurice Manning of the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, does possess a connection to that Distinguished University Professor of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology: The two are cousins.


Fisher has been at the helm of CEOs for Cities since it was founded in 2001. In addition to leading the global learning network of cross-sector, cross-generational urban leaders dedicated to building and sustaining the next generation of great American cities, the Ohio native is a Senior Fellow with the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

Prior to his appointment to the Chicago-based organization with offices in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland, Fisher served as an Ohio State Representative, as a State Senator, as Ohio Attorney General, as president and CEO of the Center for Families and Children in Cleveland, and as Ohio Lieutenant Governor. In that last role, Fisher also served as director of the Ohio Department of Economic Development and as chair of several state initiatives: the Economic Growth Council, the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, the Clean Ohio Council and the Governor’s Council on Affordable Housing and Homelessness. As well, he was a member of the Ohio Venture Capital Authority.

During Fisher’s tenure as leader of Ohio’s economic development efforts, Site Selection magazine awarded Ohio its top national economic development award — the Governor’s Cup — three consecutive times. Site Selection also recognized the Buckeye State with the 2008 Competitiveness Award, recognizing the Ohio Department of Economic Development, under Fisher’s leadership, as the nation’s top economic development agency.

Fisher led the creation of Ohio’s first-ever Strategic Plan for Economic Development. The plan is best known for Fisher’s idea, the Ohio Hubs of Innovation and Opportunity, designed to foster urban-based collaborations between businesses, colleges and universities, and research institutions.

During his four years as state Attorney General, Fisher created the nationally recognized Operation Crackdown program and established the first statewide law enforcement and crime victim conferences. He successfully defended the constitutionality of the Ohio Hate Crime law — which he had authored as a state senator years earlier — before the Ohio Supreme Court.

A 1973 graduate of Oberlin College and a 1976 graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Fisher also holds a master’s degree in nonprofit organizations from Case Western Reserve University.

The College of Law and the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will recognize their graduates with ceremonies Sunday, May 6.

The College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony Friday, June 1, at Stranahan Theater.

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