Former Secretary of State Albright will visit for Czech independence celebrationBy William Harms
Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, will join University leaders and Czech dignitaries on Tuesday, May 13 for a series of events at the University, including a lecture at 5 p.m. in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Albright’s visit will mark the 90th anniversary of the independence of Czechoslovakia and the special relationship between Czechs and the University.
Before her address on the founding of the Czech republic, Albright will sign copies of her latest book, Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the University Bookstore. At 4:30 p.m., a commemorative ceremony will be held at the T.G. Masaryk statue on the east end of the Midway Plaisance. Joining Albright at the commemoration will be Petr Kolár, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States, Marek Skolil, Consul General of the Czech Republic in Chicago, and John Boyer, Dean of the College and the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History.
Masaryk visited the University in 1902 and 1907 and taught a course in Czech history during the Summer Quarter of 1902. Masaryk presented the Declaration of Independence of the Czechoslovak Nation to Woodrow Wilson on Oct. 18, 1918, 10 days before the proclamation of the Czechoslovak Republic in Prague. Masaryk, the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, is considered its founder.
After Hitler dismantled the republic between 1938 and 1939, its second president and co-founder, Edvard Benes, came to the University as a visiting professor.
The relationship between the nation and the University was revived by the current president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, who implemented market reforms in his country modeled on the research of Chicago economists. Klaus also spoke at the memorial service for distinguished Chicago economist Milton Friedman in February 2007.
After the ceremony, Albright will deliver the Thomas Garrigue Masaryk Lecture on Democracy at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. The lecture will celebrate the connections between the Czech Republic and the University, and it is intended to be a forum to discuss the fate of small nations and the future of democracy in the contemporary world.
The Chicago Society, the Prague Committee of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program and the Czech government, are sponsoring Albright’s visit and the events.
Albright is principal of The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm. She also is the first Michael and Virginia Mortara endowed distinguished professor of the practice of diplomacy at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She chairs both the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Pew Global Attitudes Project and serves as president of the Truman Scholarship Foundation.
In 1997, she was named Secretary of State and became, at the time, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. As Secretary of State, Albright reinforced America’s alliances, advocated democracy and human rights, and promoted American trade and business, labor and environmental standards abroad.
She earned a B.A. with Honors from Wellesley College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University’s department of public law and government.
In addition to her autobiography, Madam Secretary: A Memoir, published in 2003, she is the author of The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs (2006). Memo to the President Elect was published in January 2008.