Granoff ’70 accepts Distinguished Achievement Award

Igor Martiniouk/The Miscellany News.

Jonathan Granoff ’70 returned to campus this past week to accept the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Alumnae/i Association of Vassar College (AAVC) for his decades-long career working towards world peace. Granoff spoke to the Vassar community with both alumni and current students alike during the award ceremony interview with former CBS News Correspondent Chip Reid ’77 titled, “The Conversation: It’s All About the Journey” last Thursday, March 23. 

The Distinguished Achievement Award is awarded to one alum each year for excellence in their respective field. Lisa Tessler, Associate Vice President for Alumnae/i Engagement and Executive Director of the AAVC commented, “Granoff is particularly deserving of this award, given his lifelong commitment to protecting our world from the threat of nuclear warfare. His dedication to the challenges of this work, dating back to his student days as an anti-war activist, merits the attention of the broader Vassar community and instills pride in all of us.” 

Igor Martiniouk/The Miscellany News.

Mr. Granoff graduated cum laude from Vassar in 1970 and continued his studies at Rutgers University School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctorate. While at Vassar, Granoff was a Psychology major and concentrated in Child Development. Before Granoff was a leading activist for world peace, he was out in the streets of Poughkeepsie protesting the Vietnam War. In his award acceptance speech, he cited Vassar as a source of learning how to think critically and enjoy the pleasure of knowledge. 

Igor Martiniouk/The Miscellany News.

As the President of the Global Security Institute, an organization dedicated to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, Granoff has dedicated much of his life to combating political insecurity around the world. A staunch proponent of nuclear realism, Granoff rejects the idea of pursuing global security through nuclear weapons and instead advocates to reduce the circulation and sale of nuclear weapons. In an interview with The Miscellany News, he explained, “We can’t have military nationalism with nuclear weapons and survive. We’ve got to change. We have to change.” As daunting as this seemingly insurmountable task may be, Granoff offered an optimistic perspective: “We can have human security.” 

At the Global Security Institute, Granoff collaborates with top diplomats and decision makers. He is currently a Representative of the United Nations. Among other things, Granoff is a Senior Advisor to the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates, a Permanent Observer to the United Nations of the International Anti-Corruption Academy and a member of several governing and advisory boards such as Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament. 

Igor Martiniouk/The Miscellany News.

Prior to working for the Global Security Institute, Granoff was a lawyer for 40 years, focusing on the ethical aspects of human development and security. A particularly meaningful career moment was assisting the creation of an attorney organization which brought lawyers from the Soviet Union to the U.S. He said of this initiative,“I developed skills and helped build a lawyers organization that helped bring lawyers from the Soviet Union to the United States and build bridges that helped end the Cold War.” Additionally, Granoff has authored more than 100 publications and wrote an acclaimed screenplay about the U.S Constitution, “The Constitution: The Document that Gave Birth to a Nation.”  

Igor Martiniouk/The Miscellany News.

Granoff arrived the night before the award ceremony from Geneva, Switzerland, after appearing at the Geneva Center for Bridge Building. During his tightly-packed 36-hour visit to Vassar, Granoff spoke to Political Science Professor Stephen Rock’s U.S. foreign policy class. Rock said in a written statement, “[Granoff’s] advocacy for nuclear disarmament might, on first impression, seem utopian, but it has the force of both international law and international ethics behind it. I think my students enjoyed hearing him and engaging with him. He was certainly impressed with them, telling me afterward how thoughtful and sophisticated their questions were.” 

One attendee of the ceremony, Zheka Chyzhykova ’25 commented on the global nonproliferation policies that Granoff discussed, saying in a written statement, “He said that states’ security cannot keep being built up by increased militarization (specifically nuclear weapons) and he is anti-nuclear proliferation, which I agree with. But I think that it is fair for smaller countries to require military security (NATO, nuclear weapons, etc.) as a way to avoid military conflicts. Because as we’ve often seen, diplomacy/treaties are not always a secure solution.”

Igor Martiniouk/The Miscellany News.

“The Conversation: It’s All About the Journey” touched upon many key aspects of Granoff’s time at Vassar, career and life. Granoff spoke about the role of religion and spirituality in his work and its intersection with nonproliferation movements. Azure Malley-Porter ’25 also attended the talk, noting afterwards, “I was also really struck with the spiritual aspect of his thoughts. I think it’s really genuine, the fact he acknowledged it impacted the way he went about his work. Because at the core of this issue is a denial of the human, and what is at risk is the destruction of the human. Moving forward with a reminder of the connection between people is at the heart of what will overturn the current apathetic climate.” 

Granoff would like to leave the Vassar student body with some words of advice, hoping these principles will inspire further student dialogue: “Love people, use things. Never love things and use people.” He added, “Develop skills that will help you express the love that is alive in your heart, and doors, inside and outside, will open for you.” 

 

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