Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union who ended Communist rule in Eastern Europe and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, will deliver a major address titled “Perspectives on Global Change” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Allan P. Kirby Sports Center, followed by a question-and-answer session.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are required to attend the address. The supply of tickets, which were free of charge, is now exhausted. Alumni gatherings will feature a live streaming of President Gorbachev’s address.
Gorbachev’s visit to Lafayette celebrates the creation of a new center for global education made possible by the support of Walter Oechsle ’57 and his wife, Christa.
“Connecting the classroom to the world outside our walls is at the core of the College’s mission,” says Lafayette President Daniel H. Weiss. “We are immensely grateful to Walter and Christa Oechsle for their exemplary dedication, vision, and generosity that are enabling the College to broaden the global dimension of our educational offerings.
“This initiative reflects our commitment to a curriculum that meets the needs of our students and graduates in a complex, rapidly changing world,” Weiss adds. “We are honored that Mikhail Gorbachev, a towering international figure who played a courageous and pivotal role in transforming our world, will play a role as we launch our new center at Lafayette.”
The Oechsle Center for Global Education will be housed in a new academic building with faculty offices, seminar rooms, and state-of-the-art classrooms with international connectivity, in addition to space for public lectures and common areas to encourage dialogue about global issues. Building on the College’s historic strengths, a significantly revised major in international affairs will be the core of the global education program. The curriculum also will include study-abroad courses, a capstone experience, community-based learning, and area studies programs.
Wendy L. Hill, provost and dean of the faculty, says, “The College’s Ad Hoc Committee on Global Education, which had faculty from all divisions, provided wide-ranging recommendations that touch the educational experiences of all our students and their collective vision will be reflected in the new Oechsle Center. Having the Center for Community-based Learning, Research, and Service as a component of the Oechsle Center also helps to underscore our view that Lafayette graduates of tomorrow must not only learn about the world but also how to engage with communities.”
“How fitting it is that Mikhail Gorbachev will denote the beginning of the Oechsle Center for Global Education,” Hill says. “He epitomizes the changing landscape of the global international experience, and his visit signals our changing approach to global education. It is not for the benefit of a few or of a particular major, but rather an integrative experience for all our students.”
As the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991 and president of the Soviet Union in 1990–91, Gorbachev taught the world two new words, perestroika (governmental restructuring) and glasnost (political openness) and is credited with implementing revolutionary political and economic reforms in his country that fostered a new policy of peace and cooperation with the United States.
At the 1990 Peace Prize award ceremony, Gidske Anderson, chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, “The committee has made this award in recognition of the leading role Mikhail Gorbachev has played in the radical changes that have taken place in East-West relations. He has undoubtedly cooperated with other persons and other nations. But . . . his manifold personal contributions and his efforts on behalf of the Soviet Union have proved decisive.”
Gorbachev’s visit to Lafayette coincides with the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union later this year.