LAWRENCE – Juan Manuel Santos, president of the Republic of Colombia, will return to his alma mater Sept. 24, University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little announced today.
“We are honored to welcome President Santos back to the University of Kansas. He’s one of KU’s most distinguished alumni, and I’m very happy our students and community will get an opportunity to talk with him during his visit,” said Gray-Little.
As part of the visit, Santos will meet with students and participate in an event at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics. During that event, he will receive the Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award, the most prestigious award given by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The 2:30 p.m. event at the Dole Institute is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 1 p.m., and seating is limited. Details on the format will be announced later.
Gray-Little extended an invitation for Santos to visit the university during a March 2011 meeting with him in Bogotá, Colombia. Santos graduated from KU in 1973 with degrees in economics and business. On June 20, 2010, (after obtaining the largest vote during the first round of the presidential elections, which took place on May 30 of the same year) at the second round of the presidential elections, he was elected president of the Republic of Colombia for the four-year period between Aug. 7, 2010, and Aug. 7, 2014. He obtained more than 9 million votes, the highest amount obtained by any candidate in the history of Colombian democracy.
Santos was chief of the Colombian delegation before the International Coffee Organization in London; he was the most recent designate to the presidency and Colombia’s first Foreign Trade Minister. He has also been finance minister and national defense minister. During this last position, he was in charge of leading the implementation of the government’s Democratic Security Policy.
He created the Good Government Foundation (Fundación Buen Gobierno) and founded the political party Partido de la U in the year 2005, currently Colombia’s largest political party.
As a journalist he was a columnist and deputy director of the newspaper El Tiempo. He was awarded the King of Spain Prize and was president of the Freedom of Expression Commission for the Inter American Press Association. He has published several books, among which the most significant are “The Third Way,” co-written with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and “Check on Terror” (Jaque al Terror), where he describes the most important actions against the FARC terrorist group during his tenure as head of the Ministry of Defense.