FEBRUARY 15, 2006

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OU International Programs Center executive director selected as 'strong men and women' nominee

Edward J. Perkins

Edward J. Perkins, executive director of the University of Oklahoma’s International Programs Center, is one of nine prominent African Americans who was honored recently in Richmond, Va., as part of Dominion’s 16th annual Strong Men & Women: Excellence in Leadership educational series.

Strong Men & Women: Excellence in Leadership, which was begun in 1991 and is sponsored by Dominion, one of the nation’s largest producers of energy, highlights the achievements of outstanding African-American men and women and adapts their stories to an educational series that is distributed during Black History Month to schools across Dominion’s service area in Virginia, northeastern North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Each year, Dominion salutes African-American men and women who have demonstrated leadership and courage in public life; and it cultivates future leaders through student scholarships and grants, and school resource materials.

Perkins has had a long and distinguished foreign service career. Among the highlights is his 1986 appointment as the first black American ambassador to South Africa. While holding that post, he was instrumental in ending apartheid and getting Nelson Mandela released from prison. In 1989, he was appointed the first African-American director-general of the U.S. Foreign Service and served in that position until 1992. He was then appointed U.S. representative to the United Nations with the rank and status of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary and U.S. representative to the U.N. Security Council, where he served from 1992 to 1993. From 1993 to 1996, Perkins served as the first African-American U.S. ambassador to Australia.

Perkins, who also is the William J. Crowe Chair Professor of Geopolitics at the University of Oklahoma, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California. He is the recipient of the Presidential Distinguished and Meritorious Service awards; Department of State’s Distinguished Honor and Superior Honor Award; Una Chapman Cox Foundation Award for Distinguished Foreign Service Work; University of Southern California’s Distinguished Alumni Award; and Statesman of the Year Award from George Washington University, among many other awards.

The program provided an opportunity for about 500 people to hear firsthand Perkins’ views on leadership.

Other 2006 honorees include Diana E. Bajoie, the first African-American woman elected to the Louisiana Senate; Howard L. Baugh, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen; Nathan Davis, founder and head of the first jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh; Francis M. Foster Sr., noted Richmond, Va., historian; Stephanie Tubbs Jones, first African-American woman elected to Congress in Ohio; Robert P. Madison, president and CEO of the first African-American architectural firm in Ohio; Elliott “Ellie” Mannette, principal innovator and designer of the modern steel drum; and Daphne Maxwell Reid, former model, actress and entrepreneur, and first African-American woman on the cover of Glamour magazine.

For more information about the Strong Men & Women: Excellence in Leadership series, log on to www.dom.com/about/education/strong/index.jsp.