William E. Strickland Jr., Pitt Alumnus and Trustee, Is Recipient Of the 2011 Goi Peace Award

Issue Date: 
January 23, 2012
William E. Strickland Jr. at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on Pittsburgh's North Side

The Goi Peace Foundation has honored Pitt alumnus and trustee William E. Strickland Jr. (A&S ’70), president and chief executive officer of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, with its 2011 Goi Peace Award. The annual award recognizes individuals and organizations in various fields that have made outstanding contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and harmonious world for humanity and all life on earth. Previous recipients have included Microsoft chair Bill Gates, former Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Oscar Arias, social entrepreneur Bill Drayton, and Indian medical doctor Deepak Chopra. Strickland recently accepted the award at the Goi Peace Foundation Forum 2011 in Tokyo. Strickland founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild while still a Pitt student in 1968 to bring arts education and mentorship to inner-city youth in his North Side neighborhood. In 1972, he assumed leadership of the Bidwell Training Center and molded it into a successful jobs training program for disadvantaged adults. Manchester Bidwell—a nonprofit corporation comprising these two main operations—has proven to be a successful model for change. Calling Strickland a “social innovator,” the Peace Award selection committee praised him for his “visionary social work to help the underserved population transform their lives” and for “inspiring others to dream bigger.” The committee added: “By offering innovative educational and cultural opportunities with emphasis on the arts, beauty, and respect, Mr. Strickland has empowered thousands of youth and adults to restore hope and dignity and become creative contributors to their communities.” “The selection of distinguished Pitt alumnus and University trustee Bill Strickland for this prestigious international award honors a ‘home grown’ humanitarian whose reach is global and who has devoted his life to improving the lives of others,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Bill’s simple philosophy—of making beauty and opportunity accessible to others, of instilling in them the power of hope, and of watching them find their own way—has opened minds and imaginations and restored meaning and self- dignity. “During 2012, the University of Pittsburgh is celebrating its 225th anniversary with the theme ‘225 Years of Building Better Lives,’” Chancellor Nordenberg added. “Bill Strickland used the power of a Pitt education to help build his own life and is now doing special work every day and throughout the world to help others build better lives. We continue to applaud and be inspired by Bill and are privileged to claim him as one of our own.” Strickland graduated cum laude from Pitt with a bachelor’s degree in history and foreign relations. He serves as a consultant, grant evaluator, and mentor in the fields of the arts and arts education, community development, and workforce development training. Strickland’s Manchester Bidwell model uses the philosophy that environment shapes people’s lives. His institution is known for providing an empowering atmosphere of art, light, music, and respect. The model has been replicated in San Francisco; Cincinnati; and Grand Rapids, Mich., and other centers are planned. Strickland has been accorded numerous honors, including selection as a MacArthur “genius” Fellow; being named a Pitt Distinguished Alumni Fellow; being inducted into the University’s inaugural Legacy Laureate class; and being named 2007 Pittsburgher of the Year by Pittsburgh Magazine. Strickland is the author of Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary (Currency, 2007). Established in Tokyo in 1999, the Goi Peace Foundation describes itself as an organization for the benefit of the public whose mission is supporting the evolution of humanity toward a peaceful and harmonious new civilization. Its various educational and outreach programs strive to promote the creation of peace and build cooperation between individuals and organizations across diverse fields, including education, science, culture, and the arts. The foundation is an NGO enjoying special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.