Kofi Annan ’61

2011 Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award

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Photo: Kofi Annan '61

Although Kofi Annan ’61 graduated from Macalester 50 years ago, his mark on campus has been an undeniably lasting one, far beyond his autograph on a ping-pong table in the Leonard Center and his bust in Markim Hall.

Annan has returned to campus several times for commencements and convocations, but his most recent trip to St. Paul was part of the inaugural events for the Institute for Global Citizenship in May 2009. During that visit, he raised the U.N. flag in the middle of campus and spoke to a crowd of 1,900 Macalester community members.

"We all have the power to make choices; we should never doubt that," he told them. "We can choose to be silent and turn away, or we can step forward and take action. Here at Macalester, you have chosen to make a difference."

Annan came to Macalester from Ghana and became a state champion orator and a member of the track team before leaving with a degree in economics.

After graduation, Annan attended the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva before studying at MIT's Sloan School of Management. He joined the United Nations’ World Health Organization in 1962, worked as the director of tourism in Ghana from 1974 to 1976, and returned to the U.N. in the late 1980s. There he served as U.N. Secretary General from 1997 to 2006 and, with the U.N., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for founding the Global AIDS and Health Fund to support developing countries. Today he serves on the Institute for Global Citizenship’s Global Advisory Board as well as other organizations with both international and African focuses. He lives in Switzerland.