Montana State University

Two to receive new MSU Presidential Medal for Global and Visionary Leadership

April 3, 2008 -- Anne Pettinger, MSU News Service


Jane Goodall, left, and Shirin Ebadi have been named the first recipients of the Montana State University Presidential Medal for Global and Visionary Leadership. Both women will be on the MSU campus in April to give public lectures and accept their awards.    High-Res Available

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Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall and Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, have been named the first recipients of the Montana State University Presidential Medal for Global and Visionary Leadership. Both women will be on the MSU campus in April to give public lectures and accept their awards.

"Although Ebadi and Goodall have impacted us in very different ways, through their leadership, they have each made our world a better place," said MSU President Geoff Gamble.

Ebadi, a human rights activist and Iranian lawyer, will discuss "Iran Awakening: A Story of Revolution and Hope" at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in MSU's Strand Union Building Ballrooms. Tickets for Ebadi's lecture are on sale now, and are $5 for students or $8 for the general public. Tickets are available at all TicketsWest locations and at www.ticketswest.com.

Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations Messenger of Peace, will deliver "A Reason for Hope" at 6 p.m. Monday, April 28, at MSU's Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. There is no admission charge to Goodall's MSU Wallace Stegner Lecture, but seating is limited. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. and tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

MSU established the Presidential Medal as a way of honoring people of international stature who might not be directly associated with Montana, according to Tim Ford, an MSU microbiology professor who chaired the selection committee. Ford explained that MSU awards honorary doctorates, but the recipients of those awards must be associated with Montana in some way.

Presidential Award nominees are evaluated on the basis of their intellectual and humanitarian contributions, societal impacts, innovation, courage and character. Ford said the winners are also chosen, in part, for their ability to inspire students to think globally.

"The recipients are individuals who can help students think beyond the constraints of Bozeman, Montana, for example," Ford said. "They can help people understand the capacity of their actions to do harm and to do good."

Goodall and Ebadi are both excellent choices for the award, Ford added, because they are "outstanding models for global visionary leadership...both are household names worldwide."

Ebadi stood up to conservative clerics while pioneering efforts to improve women's and children's rights in Iran. Her refusal to be silenced and willingness to address sensitive political issues have earned her international acclaim and, in 2003, the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to receive the prize.

As a lawyer, Ebadi has been involved in a number of controversial political cases. She served as attorney for the families of some writers and intellectuals who were victims of serial murders in 1999-2000. She has also worked to reveal the principles behind an attack on students at Tehran University in 1999 where several students died. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.

Goodall, who is an environmentalist and humanitarian as well as a primatologist, began her landmark study of chimpanzees in Tanzania in 1960 under the mentorship of anthropologist and paleontologist Louis Leakey. Her work at what was then called the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve became the foundation of primatological research and redefined the relationship between humans and animals.

In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues the Gombe research and is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. The Institute is also widely recognized for establishing innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and the Roots & Shoots education program, which has 8,000 groups in 96 countries.

Goodall's lecture is co-sponsored by MSU's history and philosophy department, the Wallace Stegner Endowed Chair in Western Studies, currently held by writer David Quammen, the College of Letters and Science, and the President's Office, as well as the Tributary Fund, a non-profit organization based in Bozeman.

Ebadi's lecture sponsors include ASMSU, MSU Leadership Institute, Office of the President, Provost's Office, MSU Humanities Institute, Humanities Montana, ASMSU Lectures & Lively Arts, the College of Letters and Science, MSU International Programs and MSU Women's Faculty Caucus.

Both women's appearances on campus in April are incredible opportunities for people in the area, said Carmen McSpadden, director of MSU's Leadership Institute.

"It's so unique to have two people of this magnitude coming to MSU in the same month," McSpadden said. "This is really amazing."

Carmen McSpadden (406) 994-7275 or cmcspadden@montana.edu; Tim Ford, (406) 994-2901 or tford@montana.edu