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New York Times best-selling author of 'Three Cups of Tea' to speak on campus Aug. 31

Updated August 27, 2009

Greg Mortenson will give the 2009 Monfort Lecture - presented by the Bohemian Foundation - at Colorado State University at 7 p.m., Aug. 31. Mortenson is a humanitarian, international peacemaker, co-founder of the non-profit Central Asia Institute and founder of the Pennies for Peace program. He is co-author of the 'Three Cups of Tea,' which has been a New York Times bestseller for more than 130 weeks, more than half of that time at No. 1.

Ticket information

The lecture is sold out.

There is no waiting list for this event. If seats become available the night of the lecture, they will be filled beginning at 6:50 p.m. Those seeking space available seating may wait in line at Moby Arena beginning at 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31.

The doors to Moby Arena will open at 6 p.m. Entry to the lecture is from the center doors on the north concourse and for those with tickets in hand, the southwest doors on the south concourse.

Early pick up of Will Call tickets is requested.

Due to the large number of Will Call tickets being held, all lecture attendees are encouraged to pick up their Will Call tickets before 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 31, to avoid long lines.

Will Call pick up at the Campus Box Office located in the Lory Student Center is available through Friday, from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. – noon., and Monday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Will call pick up will begin at Moby Monday at 5 p.m. on the ramps to the north concourse.

Event parking

Attendees are asked to consider carpooling, as parking is limited in the vicinity of  Moby Arena. In addition to the Moby lot, attendees should consider parking in lots 240 and 505 near the intersection of Pitkin and Meridian (parking map - pdf). No parking is allowed in the adjacent residence hall lots.

Road work will be taking place Monday, Aug. 31 on Shields Street, from Mulberry to Prospect. Expect lane closures at various spots from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.


Mortenson will speak about “Promoting Peace through Education” at Moby Arena followed by a book signing at approximately 8 p.m. on the east concourse. Books will be available for purchase on both the north and south concourses before and during the lecture.


Internationally-acclaimed book

Three Cups of Tea has sold more than three million copies, has been published in 34 countries, used in more than 90 colleges and universities as a freshman, honors, or campus-wide read, and used in more than 400 high/junior high schools as a common reading experience. The book is mandatory reading for all senior U.S. military commanders, military officers in counter-insurgency training, and U.S. Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan.

The book’s phenomenal success led it to be adapted into a young readers version and a children’s picture book, Listen to the Wind, both of which were instant New York Times No. 1 bestsellers for several months. Mortenson’s newest book, Stones Into Schools - continuing where the Three Cups of Tea story left off in 2003 - will be released in December 2009.

Promotes girls' education, literacy

On March 23, 2009, Pakistan’s government presented Mortenson with its highest civil award, the Sitara-e-Pakistan (Star of Pakistan), for his courage and humanitarian effort to promote girls’ education and literacy in rural areas for the last 16 years. Only three foreigners have received the award. In 2009, a bi-partisan group of U.S. congressional representatives nominated Mortenson for the Nobel Peace prize, which is given annually in Norway.

Mortenson was born in Minnesota in 1957. He grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, from 1958 to 1973. His father co-founded the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, a teaching hospital, and his mother founded the International School Moshi. Mortenson served in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War where he received the Army Commendation Medal, and later graduated from the University of South Dakota, pursuing graduate studies in neurophysiology.

Personal tragedy changed his life

On July 24, 1992, Mortenson’s younger sister died from a massive seizure after a lifelong struggle with epilepsy, on the eve of a trip to visit Dyersville, Iowa, where the baseball movie Field of Dreams was filmed.

In 1993, to honor his sister’s memory, Mortenson climbed Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, in the Karakoram Range. After climbing K2, while recovering in a local village called Korphe, Mortenson met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand, and made a promise to help them build a school.

Remarkable humanitarian campaign

From that promise grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mortenson has established more than 90 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. These schools provide education to more than 38,000 children, including 27,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

Challenges, danger encountered

His work has not been without difficulty. In 1996, he survived an eight-day armed kidnapping in the Northwest Frontier Province tribal areas of Pakistan, and in 2003 escaped a firefight with feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck going to a leather-tanning factory. 

Mortenson has overcome two fatwas from enraged Islamic mullahs, endured CIA investigations, and received hate mail and death threats from fellow Americans following 9/11, for helping Muslim children with their education.

Living hero to rural communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials, and tribal chiefs for his tireless effort to champion education.

He is one of just a few foreigners who have worked extensively for 16 years (spending more than 70 months in the field) in places few foreigners have frequented. Mortenson advocates that girls’ education should be the top priority to promote economic development, foster peace, and prosperity.

During the half of each year he is not overseas, Mortenson, 51, lives in Montana, with his wife, Dr. Tara Bishop, a clinical psychologist, and their two children.

Sponsors and presenters

Bohemian Foundation is a private foundation that works to create imaginative ways to connect fellow citizens and organizations to make the community a better place to live.

The lecture is also sponsored by the university’s Office of Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, or SLiCE, which is funded by student fees.

The Monfort Lecture Series at Colorado State has featured such prominent speakers as United Nations Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall; Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet leader; Madeleine Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State; Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu; and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336