Las Cruces – Students in New Mexico State University's Model United Nations organization have announced that Edward J. Perkins, former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and the United Nations, will give the keynote address at their third annual "Night at the U.N." banquet on Feb. 17. The 6 p.m. event, sponsored by NMSU's International and Border Programs and the Department of Government, takes place at the new Las Cruces Convention Center at 680 E. University Ave.
Ambassador Perkins' address is titled "The United Nations in the 21st Century."
"International and Border Programs and NMSU's International Relations Institute are honored to have Ambassador Edward Perkins as our keynote speaker," said Delano Lewis, NMSU dean of International and Border Programs and himself a former U.S. ambassador. "Dr. Perkins, a retired career diplomat, has such vast knowledge and experience in diplomatic affairs, including his service as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. He is a friend and colleague, as well as an adviser to the IRI, and we welcome his thoughts and ideas on the U.N. in the 21st century."
The annual spring event is a fundraiser for the Model U.N. organization and will include a silent auction. Proceeds will help support the group's travel expenses to the National Model United Nations - New York conference April 19-23.
Tickets for the dinner are $60 per person ($45 for students). Corporate and organization sponsorships of 10-person tables (nine guests plus one sponsored Model U.N. student) are also encouraged. Tickets and tables can be reserved on the web at http://www.nmsu.edu/~govdept/modelun/a-night-at-the-un.html or by calling the group's treasurer, Randy Taylor, at 575-644-3582. To ensure availability, reservations should be made by Feb. 16.
Ambassador Perkins' long career of public service included ambassadorial appointments to Liberia (1985), South Africa (1986-89), the United Nations (Ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. Representative in the U.N. Security Council, 1992-93) and the Commonwealth of Australia (1993-96), capped off with two years as director of the State Department Diplomatic Corps. He retired in 1998 at the rank of Career Minister. He was the first Black U.S. ambassador to South Africa, serving while that country was still operating under the Apartheid system.
After retiring from government service, Perkins served as William J. Crowe Professor of Geopolitics and executive director of the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma (1996-2007).
Dr. Perkins is the author and editor of several books, the most recent of which is his memoir, "Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace," published in 2006 by University of Oklahoma Press.
The NMSU Bookstore will host two book signing events featuring Ambassador Perkins. An afternoon signing will be held at the bookstore in the Corbett Center from 2:30-4:30 p.m. The second signing will be held at the convention center following Perkins' talk.
According to Ashley McMillan, Model U.N. president, doors open for the banquet at 6 p.m., at which point silent auction bidding will begin, accompanied by chamber music led by NMSU music graduate student Bartolo Vargas. There will also be a cash bar. Dinner will be served shortly before 7 p.m.
"This banquet affords us the opportunity to compete at the national and international level," McMillan said. "Our table and individual sponsors, as well as silent auction donors, are an integral part of our accomplishments in New York. Without the support of the NMSU and Las Cruces communities, we would not be nearly as successful as we have been."
This year's silent auction includes a dinner for eight at Ambassador and Mrs. Lewis' house, an art piece donated by Namb , a wooden jewelry box custom designed for the event by Curtis Donohue, a one-night stay at Hotel Encanto, Sonoma Ranch golf passes and a spa package with items from Duncan Noble, Serenity Massage and Ruby Red Nails.
Table sponsors and silent auction item donors will be recognized in the printed event program and on a banner displayed in the banquet room.
NMSU's Model U.N. team has racked up remarkable success over the past six years, most recently winning awards for both "Outstanding Delegation" and "Best Position Papers" three years running. This year the NMSU team will be representing Lithuania. More than 4,000 delegates from the United States and other countries attend the conference each year.
Jason Ackleson, the group's long-time adviser and a professor in the Department of Government, said, "Model U.N. is an opportunity for students to get a hands-on experience in diplomacy and negotiation while learning about international affairs. In today's interconnected world, these skills are crucial to advancing international understanding. Many students tell me Model U.N. was the highlight of their time at NMSU."
For more information about the event, visit the Model U.N. website at http://www.nmsu.edu/~govdept/modelun/