It may have been by coincidence, or maybe ordained by fate.
On the very same day the College of William & Mary announced its intention to establish a world-class center for international studies, I received a letter from Wendy Reves, the widow of the late Emery Reves, my friend and mentor, and the author of the seminal work, The Anatomy of Peace.
My relationship with Emery Reves began when I read his book in Czech translation. It became my bible. While escaping from Communist Czechoslovakia, with only the clothes on our back and one small piece of hand luggage, my wife, Jaroslava, without my knowledge, placed it among our belongings. The book is now part of the Special Collection at the Swem Library.
During our first return trip to Europe, I decided to pay respect to the man who had so profoundly influenced my outlook on world events. Reves agreed to see me for 10 minutes. The visit lasted three hours. Our meetings in the ensuing years became routine. He became my mentor and close friend. He was steady in his belief that world peace can be achieved only through universal law and if enough well-educated young people embrace this idea.
When I received Wendy’s letter so many years later, she asked for assistance. She was determined, she wrote, to create a memorial that would reflect Emery’s vision of world peace based on universal law. But she was at loss to find the right vehicle.
As a columnist for The Virginia Gazette, I was familiar with the accomplishments and the reputation of William & Mary. Thus my wife, Jaroslava and I, recommended to Wendy to select the College as the recipient of her endowment.
I managed to persuade Wendy that a Center of International Studies at William & Mary, an institution of higher learning with a history of some 300 years, would be the perfect vehicle for disseminating Emery’s concept of achieving world peace. Wendy’s endowment at that time was the largest single donation in William & Mary’s long history. But it paid off. During the Reves Center’s 20 year of existence it has established a sterling reputation in many areas.
The W&M Model United Nations team has taken first prize, repeatedly, competing against students from the most prestigious universities of the world. The work of many students is showcased in the Monitor, a student-run undergraduate journal that publishes the best undergraduate student research on a wide range of international subjects. And the Reves Center is now poised to play a vital role in internationally focused and interdisciplinary academic programs.
It was with immense satisfaction that I was able to convey to Wendy, not long before her death, that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proclaimed the international studies curriculum at William & Mary “perhaps the finest undergraduate international relations program in the country.”
Frank Shatz is an international affairs columnist for The Virginia Gazette. During the Second World War Shatz was forced into a Nazi slave labor camp. He escaped, and joined the anti-Nazi underground in Hungary. After the war he became a foreign correspondent based in Prague. A close friend of the late Emery Reves, Shatz was instrumental in persuading Reves’ widow, Wendy, to endow the Center for International Studies at the College of William & Mary. Shatz’s book, Reports from a Distant Place, is available now.