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TCNJ mourns the sudden loss of Dr. Morton Winston

The College of New Jersey mourns the passing of Dr. Morton Winston, professor of philosophy, who died this week while on vacation in Peru.

TCNJ mourns the sudden loss of Dr. Morton Winston
Mort Winston

“The college community will feel the absence of Mort in a thousand ways,” said President R. Barbara Gitenstein. “I personally will miss his wise counsel, his ethical commitment, and his generous spirit. My heart goes out to his family—particularly Sally and his daughters.”

Dr. Winston came to TCNJ in 1979, where he taught and developed courses on bioethics, genocide and human rights, environmental ethics, human rights in international relations, human rights, philosophy of technology, and mind, language and computers. He served as chair of the Department of Philosophy from 1982-1988 and again from 2005 to 2012. He was faculty co-chair of the Committee on Strategic Planning and Priorities and led the development of TCNJ’s strategic plan in 2011-12, work for which he received the Faculty Senate’s Outstanding Faculty Leadership award. He had been serving this year as faculty representative to the Board of Trustees.

Dr. Winston was an internationally recognized human rights scholar, educator, and activist. He edited one of the first widely used textbooks on the philosophy of human rights in 1989. He was a member of the editorial boards of the two leading human rights journals, Human Rights Quarterly and the Journal of Human Rights, and contributed numerous articles, chapters, book reviews, and conference papers on human rights topics and issues. His published works have been cited 988 times. In 2007 he held the Danish Distinguished Chair of Human Rights at the Danish Institute of Human Rights in Copenhagen. This was one of three senior Fulbright Scholarships he has received, the other two being in South Africa in 1992 and Thailand in 1999.

In addition to his scholarship and teaching, Dr. Winston applied his knowledge of human rights in more practical ways. During the late 1980s he led the South Africa Country group for Amnesty International USA (AI). He was elected to the national board of directors in 1991 and later served as chairman of that board from 1995-1997 and again in 2002. He also chaired for six years one of the major policy committees of Amnesty International worldwide, and in that role helped to bring about a major revision in that organization’s mission in 2001 moving AI from a human rights NGO mainly focused on protecting the rights of prisoners, to one that addresses all forms of human rights violations. He also was a founder of AI’s Business and Human Rights program which works to hold multinational companies accountable for human rights. Since 1999 he had also been deeply involved in the corporate social responsibility movement through his association with Social Accountability International, a charitable organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the rights of people in the workplace. He was a member of the Founders Committee and was in his third year as chair of the board of directors of Social Accountability Accreditation Services.

Dr. Winston was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1970 (Epsilon of Pennsylvania – Swarthmore College) and was a founding keyholder of TCNJ’s chapter. He was selected by his fellow keyholders to deliver the chapter’s inaugural induction ceremony address in April 2006. He had been serving as the chapter’s treasurer.