Posted on Oct 7, 2016 in Alumni News and News
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia on Friday was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending a civil war that has ravaged his country for more than 50 years. Although the peace accord Santos, a 1973 KU graduate with degrees in business and economics, negotiated with Colombian rebels was unexpectedly rejected by voters, the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed hope that the award would encourage Colombians to continue their efforts at ending a civil war that killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly 6 million.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process,” the Nobel Committee stated in a press release issued Oct. 7 from its Oslo, Norway, headquarters. “Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue. The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”
Santos followed an older brother, Luis Fernando Santos, a 1970 graduate of KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, to KU, arriving on Mount Oread in 1969. As detailed in a cover story of Kansas Alumni magazine’s issue No. 3, 2011, Santos first lived in McCollum Hall, then joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity as a sophomore.
A motivated scholar—as well as a friendly fraternity brother who enjoyed beers at The Wagon Wheel Café, serenading sororities and participating in all-night nickel-dime-quarter poker games—Santos earned his KU degree in seven semesters, returned to Colombia, then left for London where he began his career as Colombia’s delegate to the International Coffee Organization. The KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named Santos a distinguished alumnus in 2012.
“This great honor only adds to the immense pride KU alumni around the world have felt for their fellow Jayhawk since President Santos devoted himself to the cause of peace in Colombia,” said KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson. “This Nobel Peace Prize also brings honor to the long-established mission of University of Kansas faculty, administrators, students, staff and alumni to make our heartland campus a welcome home to students from around the world. Our international missions, as educators and alumni advocates, will continue with an energized pace thanks to President Santos, whom we are proud to call one of our own.”
Olav Njølstad, secretary of the Nobel Committee, on Friday said, “I just had a chance to talk with President Santos on the phone, and he was overwhelmed. He said immediately that this is ‘very, very, very important for my country and for the continuing peace process.’”
For continuing updates, follow KU Alumni Association social media outlets, and Alumni Association members will find complete coverage in issue No. 6 of Kansas Alumni magazine.
Illustration: Niklas Elmehed. Copyright: Nobel Media AB 2016