British humanitarian and former Hezbollah hostage Terry Waite has been named scholar-in-residence at Lipscomb University’s Institute for Conflict Management.
Waite, who garnered international recognition when he successfully negotiated the release of hostages in Iran and Libya while serving as a special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s, has a one-year appointment with the institute beginning in September. He was guest lecturer for the institute in 2006.
“Dr. Waite will add a new dimension to the work of the institute,” said Steve Joiner, managing director of the Institute for Conflict Management. “With his experience as a negotiator and a world-renowned agent of peace, he is a testament to the power and resilience of the human spirit and has long been devoted to humanitarian causes, intercultural relations and conflict resolution. He has unique experience with stress, loneliness and negotiating under acute pressure that helps him give students a perspective of world affairs founded on open communication, cooperation and a deep understanding of diverse cultures.”
As the Institute for Conflict Management’s first scholar-in-residence, Waite will provide insight, student support and writings for its students and alumni as well as for the community. He will be the featured speaker for a special retreat offered by the institute for its students, supporters and friends in Woodstock, Vt., Sept. 12-14 as well as a seminar in Nashville in spring 2014. Waite will also write articles and commentary for use by the institute in addition to interacting with students throughout the year.
“I am greatly looking forward to visiting Lipscomb University for the ‘scholar-in-residence’ programme,” said Waite, who lives in England. “Much of my life has been spent working as a negotiator in conflict situations throughout the world and during my time there I will examine some of these situations with students. I shall discuss extreme situations where lives have been at stake. I shall do so because it is from such situations that lessons may be learned that are applicable to so called 'normal' life. It would be my hope that during our time together there will be plenty of opportunities to question and discuss in details the many points that will be raised.”
Waite said he expects to recount experiences of negotiating with individuals such as former Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi as well as with Hezbollah in Lebanon and Revolutionary Guards in Iran. He said he also plans to spend time examining the qualities required in a negotiator and to discuss how one copes when things go badly wrong. “In my case,” he recalls, “experiencing almost five years in strict solitary confinement.”
In 1987, while negotiating the release of hostages in Beirut, Waite was himself taken hostage. In captivity for 1,763 days (four years of which were in solitary confinement), he was chained to a wall, often left in darkness, beaten and subjected to mock executions. He was released from captivity in November 1991. In December 2012, he returned to Beirut to see first-hand the plight of Christian refugees flooding across the Syrian/Lebanese border to escape what has become known as “Arab Spring.” He also went back to confront his captors with a message of reconciliation.
Today, Waite is co-founder and president of Y Care International, the YMCA’s international development and relief agency, and also serves as president of Emmaus UK, a nonprofit organization serving formerly homeless people. He has authored numerous articles and papers as well as several books including “Taken on Trust,” “Footfalls in Memory” and “Travels with a Primate.”