R.S. Shriver Biography

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., Doctor of Public Service

The Shriver Center at UMBC, named in honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver, was created in December 1993, with the mission of mobilizing the talents and resources of higher education to confront and solve the problems facing urban America today. In 1994, UMBC welcomed the Shriver family’s decision to move the Shriver Peaceworker Program here. Established in honor of Mr. Shriver, the Peaceworker Program promotes “the intelligent interaction of public-spirited initiatives for social change and religious, moral, and ethical reflection.”

A son of Maryland and a longtime advocate for the poor and the powerless, Robert Sargent Shriver Jr. compiled an unparalleled record of public service at every tier-from the local level to the world community.

A graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School and a member of the U.S. Navy for five years, Mr. Shriver served under President John F. Kennedy as the organizer and first director of the Peace Corps. He developed volunteer activities in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, from 1961-1966.

Then, under President Lyndon B. Johnson, Mr. Shriver took on another pioneering role as the first director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, from 1964 to 1968. He was responsible for creating such socially conscious programs as VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), Head Start, Community Action, Foster Grandparents, Job Corps, Legal Services, Indian and Migrant Opportunities, and Neighborhood Health Services. During this time, he was Special Assistant to President Johnson and from 1968 to 1970 was Ambassador to France.

Specializing in international law and foreign affairs, Mr. Shriver was named a partner in the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson in 1970. Just two years later, he was nominated by the Democratic Party as a candidate for Vice President with Senator George McGovern.

In 1984, he was selected as President of Special Olympics, Inc., working side-by-side with his wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Founder and then Honorary Chair of Special Olympics, Inc. As president, Mr. Shriver directed the operation and international development of sports programs for persons with intellectual disabilities in countries around the world and he continued to serve as Chairman Emeritus of the Board.

Mr. Shriver received numerous honors and awards, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom From Want Award; Veteran of the Year; the James J. Hooey Award from the Catholic Conference for Interracial Council of New York; Lay Churchman of the Year; Notre Dame Patriotism Award; National Brotherhood Award; Hannah G. Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women; and The Order of the Smile of Polish Children.

In 1994, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton, who said,

“Robert Sargent Shriver has not only shared, but shaped, the action and passion of his times. It was Sarge Shriver’s energy, persuasion, and leadership that made the goals of the Peace Corps attainable, that living reminder that the essence of American power is not might of arms, but constancy of ideals, and perseverance of effort. That so much endures with his indelible stamp both stuns and invigorates Head Start, VISTA, Foster Grandparents, Legal Services, the Job Corps, and more. He released a torrent of creative energy. ‘Serve, serve, serve,’ Sargent Shriver told Americans, √¢‚ǨÀúbecause in the end, it will be the servants who save us all.’ His service has been our legacy of hope.”

Mr. Shriver was born in Westminster, Maryland, and spent his early childhood in the Baltimore area. He was married to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Founder of Special Olympics, Inc. Mr. Shriver passed away on January 18, 2011.