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Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, returning to Minn. alma mater for dedication

Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan spoke with the media at the United Nations Office at Geneva following the June 30, 2012 Meeting of the Action Group for Syria. Wikipedia Commons

ST. PAUL—Kofi Annan's leadership skills were evident as an undergraduate student at Macalester College.

Fifty-seven years later, his alma mater is honoring the former secretary general of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize winner by naming its international institute after him.

Annan will return to St. Paul for the dedication Monday, May 7, and will later deliver the keynote address at a Books for Africa reception.

"His credentials as a leading global diplomat and as an advocate for peace are about as strong as they could get," Macalester President Brian Rosenberg said.

During his undergraduate years, Annan, who came to the college from Ghana, was a champion sprinter on the track team, played on the soccer team, was the Minnesota state oratorical champion, and participated in several programs focusing on internationalism. He graduated in 1961.

He went on to become secretary general of the U.N. and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001. He finished his second term as secretary general in 2006. In 2007, he founded the Kofi Annan Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting better global governance and strengthening the capacities of people and countries.

"He's remained very involved in important world affairs," Rosenberg said. "At Macalester, we have a mission that speaks to internationalism and multiculturalism and service to society, and we think that the career of Kofi Annan embodies that, and it's important for us to honor that career."

The school previously honored Annan in 2006, when he was an inaugural speaker at the school's newly created Institute for Global Citizenship, and in 2009 when a life-sized bronze bust of him was unveiled.

The institute "fosters global citizenship by advancing scholarship, reflection, and ethical action in our local, national, and international communities," according to Macalester's web site.

Annan and former Vice President Walter Mondale co-chair the Jack Mason Law and Democracy Initiative of Books for Africa, the world's largest shipper of books to Africa.

He will speak to invited attendees of the event about about law, democracy, the initiative, and the program as a whole.

"He's been a great champion over the years of the rule of law, and is well known for advancing democracy and governance in Africa. In addition to the initiative, he's also very supportive of our overall mission," Director of Books for Africa Patrick Plonski said.

To attend

At 11:15 a.m. Monday at Macalester College's Institute for Global Citizenship at Markim Hall, Annan and Rosenberg will speak at the dedication of the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship and the unveiling of the new institute name.