MINNEAPOLIS (April 23, 2013) — Dr. Patrick Mendis was recently named an Alumnus of Notable Achievement (ANA) at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts (CLA). Mendis graduated from CLA in 1989 with a Ph.D. in geography/applied economics, and also earned a master’s degree in international development and foreign policy from the University’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
“There are more than 127,000 CLA alumni; this year we honor 18 of you, recognizing that without your achievements our state, nation and world would be diminished,” said CLA Dean James A. Parente, Jr. at the March 28 award ceremony.
From 2000–04, Mendis served in the U.S. government, including the State Department under Secretary Madeline Albright and General Colin Powell. In 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed him as a commissioner to the United States National Commission for UNESCO. Mendis has held positions in the Minnesota House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the World Bank, and the United Nations.
Mendis currently resides in Reston, Va. He is a distinguished senior fellow and affiliate professor of public and international affairs, as well as an adjunct professor of geography and geoinformation science at George Mason University. He has taught international trade and American foreign policy courses at the University of Minnesota, University of Maryland and Yale University.
He is an acclaimed author of more than 100 books, journal articles, newspaper columns and government reports. Proceeds from the sales of his most recent two books have been donated to establish scholarships and a peace prize in his native Sri Lanka, and to support Kiva microloan projects in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. To honor the memory of his mentor and friend, Mendis established The Edward Burdick Legislative Award, which annually recognizes a Humphrey School of Public Affairs student for exceptional work in bipartisan public policy issue or legislation in Minnesota.
An advisor to the Harvard International Review and a councilor of the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni DC Council, Mendis recently concluded a two-month study and lecture tour. The tour covered twelve universities and institutions in eight cities in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and featured his upcoming book, The Pacific Drama: A Peaceful War Between the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny. He serves as a distinguished visiting professor at the Center for American Studies at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou, China.
After returning from China, Mendis said: “I am very grateful to the University and the people of Minnesota for giving me a new life in America as I first came to Perham [near Fargo] on an AFS scholarship in 1978 to attend high school there. Since then, I fell in love with Perham—my birthplace in America—and married a beautiful Scandinavian from Willmar, Minnesota whom I met at the Humphrey School.” He then added, “The University had become a part of our family life more than a quarter century, and it will continue to do so.”
CLA Alumni of Notable Achievement (ANA) are people whose accomplishments and leadership have brought distinction to their professions, their communities and the college. Of the college’s 127,000 graduates, only about 1,200 have been selected as Alumni of Notable Achievement. All ANA members have been nominated by CLA alumni, faculty or staff. The initiative was created in 1994 as part of CLA’s 125th anniversary to celebrate and honor the significant achievements and contributions of CLA alumni.