U.N.’s Florence Chenoweth to be UW-Madison Distinguished International Visitor

CONTACT: Ronnie Hess, Director of Communications, Division of International Studies, UW-Madison, (608) 262-5590, rlhess@wisc.edu; Jim Delehanty, Associate Director, African Studies Program, (608) 262-4458, jmdeleha@wisc.edu

Madison, WI – Florence Chenoweth, United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) representative to the UN and executive director of the FAO Liaison Office in New York, will be a UW-Madison Distinguished International Visitor this semester, the Division of International Studies and African Studies Program announced today.

“We are delighted that Ms. Chenoweth will be on campus this year,” says Gilles Bousquet, the dean of International Studies. “Her expertise in international development issues and her inspiring activist work to alleviate world hunger will be extremely valuable not only to our students and faculty but also to the Wisconsin community.”

Chenoweth, a national of Liberia, earned both her master’s degree in agricultural economics (1970) and her Ph.D.in land resources (1986) at UW-Madison. She became Liberia’s (and Africa’s) first female minister of agriculture at the age of 32, serving from 1977 to 1979. Chenoweth and her family narrowly escaped Liberia after a violent coup, walking across the country to safety in Sierra Leone. She returned to UW-Madison to complete her doctorate while Liberia spiraled into civil war. Only recently have there been signs that Liberia’s political instability is abating.

From 1983 to 1986, Chenoweth served as technical adviser to the World Bank in Lusaka, Zambia and as a consultant to the Bank in Washington, D.C. From 1987 to 1993, she was Chief of Party for a UW-Madison project in Zambia that helped improve agricultural policy formation and management. She joined the FAO in 1995 as its representative in Banjul, the Gambia, serving until January 1998 when she was appointed FAO representative in Pretoria, South Africa, following the end of apartheid. In June 2001, she was named FAO liaison with the UN in New York, serving as the main link between the FAO and the UN’s General Assembly and community. Her current post at the UN expires in April. Chenoweth will spend approximately two weeks in residence toward the beginning of the spring semester, and return for several additional weeks in May. She will meet regularly with students and faculty and give several public talks. Chenoweth was awarded an honorary degree at UW-Madison commencement ceremonies last May as well as a Wisconsin Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award. The Distinguished International Visitor program regularly brings international practitioners to UW-Madison. Past visitors have included former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Jessica Tuchman Mathews.