TO: All College of Charleston Faculty and Staff
FR: George W. Hynd, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
RE: The College Reads
I am pleased to announce that based on the recommendation of The College Reads Committee, I have invited Greg Mortenson to visit campus Thursday, November 11, to speak about his important work and about Three Cups of Tea, the 2010 selection for the College Reads common reading program, and he has accepted my invitation. Many of you know much about Mr. Mortenson’s work from popular and news accounts of it. Mortenson is co-founder of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute (www.ikat.org), and of Pennies For Peace (www.penniesforpeace.org). Three Cups of Tea, which he co-wrote with David Oliver Relin, has sold over 3.6 million copies, been published in 41 countries, and has remained a New York Times bestseller for over three years since its 2007 release. In addition, it was selected as Time Magazine’s Asia Book of The Year. Mortenson’s new book, Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was released by Viking in December 2009 and debuted as #2 on the New York Times bestseller list.
As of 2010, Mortenson has established over 131 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provides education to over 68,000 children, including 48,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before. In 2009, Mortenson received Pakistan’s highest civil award, Sitara-3-Pakistan (“Star of Pakistan”), for his humanitarian effort to promote girls’ education in rural areas for fifteen years. Several bi-partisan U. S. Congressional representatives have nominated Mortenson twice for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2009 and 2010.
The choice to highlight Mr. Mortenson’s work allows us to reinforce the College’s investment in community engagement projects large and small, and to further imbue in our entering students the enduring values of responsibility, accountability, and commonality that are intrinsic to a comprehensive education. In short, Mr. Mortensen will reinforce the links between individual action and community involvement that we endeavor to make for our students in classroom instruction settings as well as during experiential learning opportunities. The theme of community engagement will play a prominent role in the Convocation ceremony this year and will remain prominent in the months leading up to Mr. Mortenson’s visit. In the coming weeks you will hear from The College Reads committee about opportunities for you to become involved in community-based projects; please consider adding your talents to those already represented by faculty, administration, and staff actively engaged in efforts to improve Charleston and larger communities as well. For more information, or if you’d like to be more directly involved in those activities, feel free to contact my office, or Carol Ann Davis, Chair of the College Reads Committee.
I’m looking forward to Mr. Mortenson’s visit and to a terrific year highlighting the importance of common reading alongside civic engagement. We’re all the richer for it.