George McGovern to speak

Former Senator George McGovern will speak in a special chapel service at Northwestern College on Thursday, Oct. 9. McGovern, who will be honored the following week with former Senator Robert Dole as co-winners of the 2008 World Food Prize, will speak about the Christian’s response to world hunger.

The service begins at 11:05 a.m. in Christ Chapel. The public is invited to attend.

“We’re excited to have the campus community hear George McGovern,” says President Greg Christy, a personal friend of McGovern, who worked closely with the former senator while raising funds for the George and Eleanor McGovern Library and Center for Leadership and Public Service at Dakota Wesleyan University. “He’s one of the great humanitarians of our time. Few people have done as much in dedicating their lives to help the poor and oppressed among us.”

McGovern, 86, is a native of Avon, S.D., who graduated from Dakota Wesleyan in 1946 after serving as a B-24 bomber pilot in Europe. He attended Garrett Seminary for one year before enrolling at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in American history and government.

McGovern returned to Dakota Wesleyan in 1950 as a professor of history and political science. He left the university five years later to reorganize the South Dakota Democratic Party. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and reelected in 1958.

After McGovern lost his first bid for the U.S. Senate in 1960, President John F. Kennedy named him the first director of the Food for Peace Program and special assistant to the president. In this position he oversaw the donation of millions of tons of food to developing nations.

McGovern was elected to the Senate in 1962 and served through 1980. As a member of the Senate committees on agriculture, nutrition, forestry and foreign relations, and the Joint Economic Committee, he was instrumental in expanding key nutrition programs.

In 1972, McGovern was selected as the Democratic Party nominee for president. In 1976, President Gerald Ford named him a United Nations delegate to the General Assembly, and, in 1978, President Jimmy Carter named him a U.N. delegate for the Special Session on Disarmament.

After leaving the Senate, McGovern was a visiting professor at numerous institutions, including Columbia University, Northwestern University, Cornell University and the University of Berlin. He served as president of the Middle East Policy Council from 1991 to 1998, when President Clinton appointed him ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. In 2001 he was appointed the first U.N. global ambassador on hunger. In this position, McGovern continues his leadership in the battle against world hunger.

McGovern and Dole will receive the $250,000 World Food Prize on Oct. 16 in Des Moines in recognition of their collaborative leadership in encouraging a global commitment to school feeding and nutrition. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, established by the United States in 2000, has provided meals to feed more than 22 million children in 41 countries and boosted school attendance by an estimated 14 percent.

The McGovern and Dole collaboration began in the 1970s when, as leaders of opposing parties, they worked together to reform the Food Stamp Program, expand the domestic school lunch program, and establish the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). During the following decades, they built a broad, non-partisan consensus for anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. By the early 21st century, the national school lunch program they fostered was providing meals to approximately 30 million children.

A prolific author, McGovern has lectured at more than 1,000 colleges and universities around the world. He has also received many honorary degrees and distinguished awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, which was bestowed in 2000.