Annan, Friedman, set to speak at Mac

By Herschel Nachlis

Kofi Annan ’61, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Thomas L. Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and New York Times columnist, are set to speak at Macalester this spring.Annan, who graduated from Macalester with a degree in Economics, and Friedman, a Minneapolis native and 1992 honorary degree recipient from the college, will discuss global citizenship and leadership in two separate talks prior to the Fall ’06 opening of Macalester’s Institute for Global Citizenship.

Friedman-who has accepted only two out of 700 requests for speaking engagements in 2006-2007-will address the community on Mar. 28, Dean of Students Laurie Hamre said.

Annan “has been invited, and has expressed interest in speaking at Mac this spring, but no definite date has been set,” President Brian Rosenberg said.

Friedman will speak before the Institute opens-Annan is expected to come this spring as well-with the two speeches aimed at increasing interest in the Institute’s themes and generating enthusiasm for its opening. The talks are part of “a series of events and speakers that signal the upcoming project and spark discussion of global citizenship on campus,” Rosenberg said.

Students seemed excited about the prospect of seeing Macalester’s most venerated alumnus as well as the author of the recent bestseller The World is Flat speak on campus perhaps within weeks of one another.
“I think the name recognition here blows away anyone I’ve seen during my time at Macalester,” Jacob Lemon-Strauss ’06 said. Beyond Annan’s obvious relationship with global leadership, Lemon-Strauss cited Friedman as a particularly appropriate speaker for the Macalester community: “This is what Mac students should aspire to be: a liberal with a global perspective and an open mind,” he said.

Upon hearing of the speakers, some students even momentarily reconsidered their decisions to study abroad.

“I’m sad I’m going to miss it,” said Justin Bigelow ’07, who will be studying in Puerto Rico this spring. “Kofi’s name gets thrown around Mac so much that I’d be excited to see if he’s actually a living, breathing person who is interested in Mac,” he added.