Dr. Landrum Bolling’s career can be characterized by a uniquely acute awareness of and desire to understand the mechanisms by which conflicts of sociopolitical, ethnic, and religious nature are manifested, and a passion for exploring the methods by which compromise and peace can be attained. His desire to understand the other’s point of view is a tendency and a gift which developed long before earning a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago, or even his 1933 graduation from University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and has propelled his career onward through nearly 80 subsequent years of outstanding service to the field of education and the furthering of peaceful intercultural relations and international conflict resolution.
Dr. Bolling’s training in political science led him to pursue a career in journalism. He also taught as a professor at both Beloit College and Brown University, and served as a research professor at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. With the onset of World War II, Bolling found himself caught in the midst of an ethical battle between his pacifist Quaker values and a feeling of humanitarian responsibility. Ultimately, after rescinding his status as a consciencious objector, Bolling found himself serving as a war correspondent in the European war theater in Rome, Vienna, Berlin, and later, Sarajevo during its liberation from Nazi occupation.
At the end of the war he served as overseas editor for a New York-based news agency, stationed in post-war Berlin and traveling with his young family throughout Europe.
Throughout the administration of Jimmy Carter, Bolling’s study and extensive knowledge of the Arab-Israeli conflict drew him into an intermediary relationship between the White House and state department and top Palestinian leaders. He served for a time as an unofficial back channel to te PLO and its leader Yaser Arafat. Later, In Bosnia, he went on to work with government officials, religious leaders, and various non government organizations to develop initiatives for inter-ethnic and religious cooperation and recognition.
Bolling’s extensive experience in international conflict resolution and in facilitating dialogue between warring cultural and religious groups provided a valuable resource for Earlham College during the fifteen years he served as its president. Developments at Earlham College he initiated or promoted, include the furthering of international and off campus programs, the establishment of the Great Lakes College Association, major building and development campaigns, national recognition of Earlham as an elite academic institution, as well as the hiring of Earlham’s first African American faculty member, William Cousins. After his resignation, Dr. Bolling was named a Lifetime Honorary Trustee of Earlham College and was honored with establishment of the Landrum Bolling Center for the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies.
Dr. Bolling’s long and fruitful career has earned him more than 30 honorary doctorates from both foreign and American universities, including his own alma mater as well as Notre Dame (where he was awarded the honorary doctorate of law) an honor shared by the likes of Harper Lee, Dave Brubeck, and former Irish President, Mary McAleese.
In June 2000, Dr. Bolling was given the Peacemaker/Peacebuilder award by the National Peace Foundation. Between 2002 and 2005, he was honored with both the CASE award as well as the James L. Fisher award, both for his work in the advancement and support of education. Dr. Bolling has also written and co-authored several books including Search for Peace in the Middle East published by the American Friends Service Committee, This is Germany, Private Foreign Aid, Reporters Under Fire, Conflict Resolution : Track Two Diplomacy, and most recently, a documentary film entitled, Searching for Peace in the Middle East.
In the years since his service to Earlham College, Dr. Bolling has, for much of the organization’s history, served as Senior advisor to Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian and peace-building agency. He currently works out of Mercy Corps’ Washington D.C. office as senior advisor in matters of policy and program development.