MIAC mourns the loss of Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan returned to Macalester College in May following the renaming of the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship in recognition of Annan’s global leadership and dedication to peace. (Photo: Macalester College)
Kofi Annan returned to Macalester College in May following the renaming of the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship in recognition of Annan’s global leadership and dedication to peace. (Photo: Macalester College)

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) joins the world in mourning the loss of Nobel Peace Prize winner and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who passed away on August 18, 2018, at the age of 80 following a brief illness.

Prior to becoming one of the most impactful and influential humanitarians of his time, Annan was a student-athlete at Macalester College, where he competed in soccer and track and field. He was a member of the Scots' 1960 track and field team that won the MIAC championship and claimed an individual Conference title with a record-setting first-place finish in the 60-meter dash that year. He finished his athletic career in 1961 as one of the top players on the Macalester soccer team.

Secretary-General Annan was also a member of the debate team at Macalester and earned a state championship as an orator. Additionally, he was president of the Cosmopolitan Club, which promoted friendship between U.S. and international students. Annan began serving as Secretary-General of the United Nations in January 1997. Four years later, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts as a scholar, diplomat and unifier.

Macalester President Brian Rosenberg shared the following statement on August 18, 2018.

To the members of the Macalester community,

By now most of you will have heard that Kofi Annan, Macalester Class of 1961, passed away at the age of 80 after a brief illness.

You can read elsewhere about the extraordinary public accomplishments of this man from Ghana who moved from our campus onto the world stage, where he became a forceful advocate for peace and human rights around the globe.  He was for many years, and will forever remain, the ultimate embodiment of Macalester's mission.

What I want to underscore is that Kofi Annan in person and in private was at least as impressive as the public figure.  He was, without fail, gracious, patient, and thoughtful.  He treated the people who worked for him with as much respect as he did the many world leaders with whom he interacted.  He was energized by and had almost limitless faith in what he liked to call "the young people," including the students at Macalester.  He bore witness to some of the worst atrocities, and dealt with some of the worst people, of our time, yet he never lost hope in the possibility for improvement in the human condition.

We at Macalester were so fortunate to have had Kofi on campus this past May and to have had the opportunity to name the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship in his honor.  It is some small consolation to me that Kofi and his wife Nane were able to be here and to celebrate this moment with our community.

Kofi Annan believed that every person was entitled to fundamental human rights, that peace was always possible, and that changing the world for the better required patience, persistence, and courage.  We can honor him best by carrying those beliefs into the work we do every day.

Both the United States and the United Nations flags, which fly side by side at the heart of campus, will be flown at half-staff in honor of Kofi Annan.

Brian Rosenberg
President