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The college recognized William Parsons ’67 for his career in education and his work with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Genocide was taking place in Paraguay as William Parsons ’67 sat in King Chapel during his freshman year; it has occurred repeatedly around the world since then and is happening today in Sudan, he told a chapel audience upon receiving Cornell’s Distinguished Achievement Award at the homecoming convocation.

“We are still unable to prevent genocide,” Parsons said, citing numerous examples during the past 40 years. “Ultimately, it all comes down to each of us to care or not care; to try to do something or to do nothing.”

As chief of staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Parsons assists the director in managing the operations and programs of the museum. He oversees 33 department heads to manage nearly 400 full-time staff, 125 contractual staff, and 300 volunteers. Prior to assuming that position in 1996, Parsons was director of education, responsible for developing and providing resources and services to educators throughout the United States who want to include a study of the Holocaust in their courses and community programs.

Parsons previously worked as an educational consultant to organizations such as the PBS-WGBH-TV2 series “Africans in America,” PBS series “Eyes on the Prize,” the Museum of Afro-American History in Boston, and Amnesty International. He is a cofounder of the Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation Inc., which was awarded a Certificate of Achievement as an “exemplary” model educational program by the U. S. Department of Education in 1980 and 1984. At Facing History, Parsons directed all activities related to teacher training, curriculum development, and implementation of the program that reached 450,000 students annually. Parsons earned a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Wisconsin and taught social studies and English in Brookline, Mass., from 1969-1978.

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