Klau family gift endows the Center for Civil and Human Rights

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Rick and Molly Klau

Rick and Molly Klau

Rick and Molly Klau of Denver have contributed $10 million to strengthen and endow the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is being re-named in their honor.

Founded in 1973 by then University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., the Center for Civil and Human Rights is dedicated to the principle that every human being is created in the image of God and therefore has a dignity that merits respect and protection. Now in conjunction with its new home at the Keough School of Global Affairs, the re-named Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights continues the legacy and further strengthens the center’s mission.

The Klau Center, in partnership with Notre Dame Law School, supports the education and professional formation of human rights lawyers. The center also teaches graduate and undergraduate students in the Keough School, preparing them to become champions of civil and human rights around the globe through education, research, internships and programming.

“The center has a long and distinguished history of promoting and defending civil and human rights in our society and around the world,” said Thomas G. Burish, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost. “This generous gift will allow us to further strengthen our programs, extend the impact of our work and enhance our ability to understand and address the complex human rights challenges facing the global community.”

The gift will make possible the accelerated achievement of the center’s priorities within the Keough School, including expanded programming, classes, internships, fellowships and events; growth in the number of faculty and staff; expanded sponsorship of related work that will engage others throughout the University on civil rights and human rights; and increased external engagement and leadership on these issues. These initiatives will position Notre Dame as a leading voice in finding innovative and principled policies and practices to promote civil and human rights around the world.

The Klau Center is one of nine international centers and institutes that make up the Keough School of Global Affairs. Founded in 2014 as the University’s first new college or school in nearly a century, the Keough School brings together units focused on international research, scholarship and education.

“Notre Dame is truly blessed to have the friendship of extraordinary families like the Klaus. Rick and Molly have been energetic and informed co-creators of this new and exciting phase in the life of a center that Father Ted envisioned as a beacon for people around the world struggling to have their dignity and basic rights protected,” said Scott Appleby, Marilyn Keough Dean. “As he did, we see the Klau Center as absolutely fundamental to the mission of Notre Dame.”

Jennifer Mason McAward directs the center and is a member of the Notre Dame Law School faculty. Her teaching and research focus on civil rights and constitutional law.

“We are so grateful for the generosity and vision of the Klau family,” Mason McAward said. “This extraordinary gift will allow us to help train the next generation of leaders who will put respect for human dignity at the heart of their work; support rigorous and honest inquiry into the causes, effects and remedies for civil and human rights violations; and be at the vanguard of innovative and principled ways to promote justice.”

The Klaus are members of the University’s Badin Guild. Rick is a former member of the Hesburgh Libraries Advisory Council and is a current member of the Keough School of Global Affairs Advisory Council. They are parents to son Kevin, Notre Dame class of ’96 (and MBA, University of Virginia ’02), and Rick (B.A. Lafayette College ’93; J.D. University of Richmond ’96); and in-laws to daughters-in-law Erin (Gallagher) Klau, ND ’96, and Robin (Peoples) Klau, Virginia Commonwealth University, ’88.

“We see the center as a way of continuing to bring our faith into action, married with core values our family embraces and supports,” Klau said. “In these days of extreme rhetoric and divisiveness, we see a need for academic rigor and nonpartisan, faith-based intellectual leadership that aspires to find solutions to the complex issues of civil and human rights. Our family is proud to partner with the University of Notre Dame and the Keough School, secure in our belief that this is the right initiative with the right resources at the right time, extending Father Ted’s original vision. We are confident that for generations to come, the Klau Center will provide leadership and inspiration to students, researchers and practitioners to challenge the status quo where the oppressed and underserved need a voice to advance human dignity globally.”

Rick is the chairman and former president of Hajoca Corp., the largest privately owned North American wholesale distributor of plumbing, heating and industrial supplies. His retail and distribution career includes prior leadership positions at WaterPro Supplies Corp., Ionpure Technologies and Millipore. Earlier in his career, he also held a number of marketing and sales assignments at General Electric and served two years in the United States Navy Reserve. Molly dedicates her time to volunteer and philanthropic opportunities targeting homelessness, hunger and education in the metro Denver area. They are members of the Denver-area Constellation Philanthropy, a group of like-minded philanthropists focused on high-impact grant making. The Klaus each earned undergraduate degrees from the University of Maryland.