Benjamin Slomoff was a retired businessman in the shoe industry when he enrolled at UMass Boston some three decades ago. After earning a bachelor’s degree and a graduate certificate in conflict resolution, he enrolled in the master’s degree program in the same field and, after graduation, started a twilight career at 83. Currently residing outside of Oakland, California, this centarian still works as a court mediator and acts as a neutral arbitrator on disputes in the field of financial securities.
For the past 17 years, Slomoff has generously funded the Annual Sylvia and Benjamin Slomoff Lectureship in Conflict Resolution, which has featured such prominent figures as Senator George Mitchell; Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Ambassador Dennis Ross, the former Middle East envoy during the Clinton administration.
According to Eben Weitzman, chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, "We kicked it up a notch to honor Ben’s 100th birthday and held a two symposium with themes that unite the work of our faculty.” The April 7-8 event held in the Campus Center Ballroom, “Bridging Global Religious Divides,” brought together scholars and practitioners from local and federal government and nonprofit agencies as well as from conflict zones in Israel and Nigeria. The event included three keynote addresses and five sessions with more than 200 people in attendance.
In his opening remarks, Provost Winston Langley saluted “Ben’s dedication to our conflict resolution program as well as his commitment to the practice of peaceful mediation.”
Weitzman shared in the accolades, calling Slomoff “one of the most inspiring persons [he's] ever met.”
Dean Ira A Jackson of the McCormack Graduate School agreed, saying, “Ben attended the symposium from 8:30 a.m. Monday morning through concluding remarks on Tuesday afternoon, attentively listening and learning, and never missing even one presentation. What an inspiration!”