On March 29, UVA President Teresa Sullivan presented the inaugural Edward R. Stettinius Jr. Prize for Global Leadership to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The ceremony also honored Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye of Nigeria with the inaugural Presidential Precinct Young Leader Award.
The dinner presentation at the Boar’s Head Inn was part of the two-day Global Leadership Forum at UVA, sponsored by the Presidential Precinct and the U.S. State Department, which drew young leaders from more than 20 nations. Both recipients participated in a Q&A roundtable moderated by Bill Antholis (Col '86), director and CEO of UVA’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Albright as the first female secretary of state. She served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, and is currently a professor of international relations at Georgetown University.
Stettinius, who enrolled at UVA in 1920, held many important positions, including secretary of state, director of the Lend-Lease program and first ambassadorship to the United Nations in 1945.
“Having served in two of the jobs Edward Stettinius held, I feel a certain kinship with him,” Albright said. “I also understand why his hair went prematurely gray.”
In her acceptance speech, Albright described her childhood in England during World War II, where her family had fled following Hitler’s invasion of Prague. She emphasized the global importance of the Lend-Lease program and its personal impact on her life.
“Lend-Lease was a crucial turning point, not only for America’s involvement in the war but for America’s involvement in the world,” Albright said. “Faced with the choice between … complacency and victory, we as a nation chose to come to the aid of our European allies. There were those who criticized President Roosevelt … but to them, President Roosevelt had a forceful response: The U.S. as a nation has at all times maintained clear, definite opposition to any attempt to lock us in behind a wall. Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves.”
Roosevelt’s message, Albright said, is still relevant today. “We cannot build security by closing ourselves off, for the survival of freedom depends on our strength and the strength of our friends and allies around the world,” Albright said. “If I could convey one message in receiving this truly important prize, it is that we cannot take the world Edward Stettinius helped to build for granted.”