May 09, Minneapolis, USA: The University of Minnesota has honored Dr. Patrick Mendis, a former American Field Service (AFS) exchange scholar from Sri Lanka, with the Alumnus of Notable Achievement (ANA) Award. He is a commissioner of the United States National Commission for UNESCO - an appointment by the Obama administration.
Mendis graduated from the land-grant university in 1989 with a Ph.D. in geography/applied economics, and also earned a master's degree in international development and foreign policy from the university's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
"There are more than 127,000 College of Liberal Arts alumni [at the University of Minnesota]; this year we honor 18 of you, recognizing that without your achievements our state, nation and world would be diminished," said the Dean of the CLA James A. Parente, Jr. at the award ceremony. Mendis served as a trustee of the Humphrey School Alumni Board and a director of the University of Minnesota National Alumni Association.
After teaching at the University of Minnesota for seven years, Mendis served in the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and State. At the State Department, he worked under Secretary Madeline Albright and General Colin Powell. Mendis has held positions in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the World Bank, and the United Nations.
Dr. Patrick Mendis (left) recently met with previous ANA award recipient Dr. Rebecca Blank, President Barack Obama's Deputy Secretary of Commerce at a university-sponsored event in Washington, DC.
He is a distinguished senior fellow and affiliate professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University's School of Public Policy, as well as an adjunct professor of geography and geoinformation science at GMU. He has taught international trade and American foreign policy courses at the University of Minnesota, University of Maryland, and Yale University.
He is an acclaimed author of more than 100 books, journal articles, newspaper columns and government reports. Proceeds from the sales of his most recent two books have been donated to establish scholarships and a peace prize in his native Sri Lanka, and to support Kiva microloan projects in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. To honor the memory of his mentor and friend, Mendis established The Edward Burdick Legislative Award, which recognizes annually a Humphrey School of Public Affairs student for exceptional work in bipartisan public policy issue or legislation in Minnesota.
An advisor to the Harvard International Review and a councilor of the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni DC Council, Mendis recently concluded a two-month study and lecture tour at twelve universities and institutions in eight cities in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong for his upcoming book, The Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a New Pacific Global Order. He has been serving as a distinguished visiting professor at the Center for American Studies at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China.
The university's Alumni of Notable Achievement (ANA) awardees are people whose accomplishments and leadership have brought distinction to their professions, their communities, and the college. The initiative was created in 1994 as part of CLA's 125th anniversary to celebrate and honor the significant achievements and contributions of alumni around the world.