Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, Founding Chair of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, passed away on April 6, 2019 at the age of 97. Senator Hollings served in the United States Senate from 1966 to 2005 and as Governor of the state of South Carolina from 1959 to 1963. The Center extends its sincere condolences to the Hollings family, as well as the Senator’s friends and colleagues from his many decades of public service.
In 2003 and 2004, the Senator, together with Senator Judd Greg (NH), worked to establish the International Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue under two important, prescient objectives. First, the Senator recognized the importance of opening and reinforcing connections between the United States and Muslim-majority countries. The new Center would work to foster dialogue between people, overcome misconceptions, and build lasting relationships. The Center would begin operations in 2005. Second, the new Center would revitalize the Palazzo Corpi, a historic building complex in Istanbul, Turkey and one of the United States’ oldest foreign properties. The complex once served as the United States embassy to Turkey and later consulate to Istanbul. The Senator recognized the historic importance of the property to the diplomatic heritage of the United States, and the symbolic significance of maintaining the site as a bridge between cultures and peoples over multiple centuries. Renovations to the historic complex would be completed in 2015, with the Center moving to its permanent location later that year.
Following the Senator’s retirement, the Center was renamed in his honor. Since that time, the Center has hosted nearly 1,000 participants from 45 countries in its private dialogue programs and thousands more in its public programs. The Senator understood the importance of frank, open dialogue to overcome shared challenges. The Center will continue to support this important vision and his lasting legacy.