LAWRENCE—University of Kansas graduate President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia on Friday was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end a 50-year civil war in his country. Although the peace accord Santos, a 1973 KU graduate in business and economics, negotiated with Colombian rebels was unexpectedly rejected by voters, the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed hope that the award would encourage Colombians to continue their efforts at ending a civil war that killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly 6 million.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process,” the Nobel committee stated in a press release issued Oct. 7 from its Oslo, Norway, headquarters. “Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue. The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”
Santos arrived at KU in 1969 and earned his degree in seven semesters, returned to Colombia, then left for London, where he began his career as Colombia’s delegate to the International Coffee Organization. Kansas Alumni magazine profiled Santos in a May 2011 cover story. The KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presented Santos its Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in 2012.
“We are excited and proud to learn that President Santos has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to pursue peace in Colombia,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “President Santos is among our most distinguished alumni and has been a wonderful supporter of the University of Kansas throughout his career. Our primary focus at KU is to prepare students to become leaders when they leave the university, and President Santos is a shining example of that.”
Heath Peterson, Alumni Association president, said Santos’ achievement adds to Jayhawk pride worldwide. “This Nobel Peace Prize also brings honor to the long-established mission of University of Kansas faculty, administrators, students, staff and alumni to make our heartland campus a welcome home to students from around the world,” he said. “Our international missions, as educators and alumni advocates, will continue with an energized pace thanks to President Santos, whom we are proud to call one of our own.”
Photo: Alumnus and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited KU in September 2012. Credit: KU Marketing Communications