Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Two U.S. secretaries of state take the stage at 2010 Korbel Dinner

Former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice greet each other at the 2010 Korbel Dinner on Aug. 27, 2010.

Only three women in U.S. history have served as secretary of state. Two of them spoke before a record crowd at DU’s annual Korbel Dinner on Friday.

Madeleine Albright, 64th U.S. secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice (BA ’74, PhD ’81), 66th U.S. secretary of state, appeared together to discuss how Albright’s father, Josef Korbel, influenced their own lives and the lives of his students while dean of the University’s international studies school that now bears his name.

“I know if my father were here tonight he would be bursting with pride,” said Albright as she referred to Rice as her father’s favorite student. “She’s a person of great professionalism, patriotism, humor and intelligence, or to put the matter another way, she’s been extremely well taught.”

Rice delivered the keynote address at the dinner and received the Josef Korbel Outstanding Alumni Award.

Albright was introduced by another former government official, Christopher Hill, who most recently served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Hill joins the University of Denver this week as dean of the Korbel School following the recent retirement of longtime dean Tom Farer.

Following Albright’s introduction, Rice focused most of her talk on how Josef Korbel changed her life at a time when she was searching for a new major. After coming to DU to study music, Rice decided to look for another career path.

“And Madeleine, it was walking into your father’s course in international politics that I found not just a major, but a passion,” Rice said.

Rice touched briefly on current events by referring to the “crushing problems in the international system today.” But she said that such problems are not new in the world of diplomacy.

“History plays a trick on us,” Rice said. “Things that one day seem impossible after they’ve happened they just seem inevitable. And those who are optimists recognize that that is, indeed, the long arch of history and that’s why optimists can lead.”

Rice pointed to Korbel as an example of that optimism.

“After all, this Czech refugee [Korbel] who escaped first Nazism and then Stalinism had an irrepressible optimism about the human spirit and about what was possible,” Rice said. “And I just know that that optimism carries into the spirit of the school.”

Rice’s connection to DU goes beyond her two degrees from the University. Her father, John, was an assistant dean, and her mother, Angelena, worked in the Office of Admissions.

The Korbel Dinner honors individuals who have made a contribution to the local community or represented the school as outstanding alumni. Proceeds from the event fund scholarships in international studies.

Receiving the International Bridge Builders award were Leo Kiely, CEO of MillerCoors, and his wife, Susan Kiely. Leo was recognized for his leadership in spearheading the joint venture between Coors Brewing Company and Miller Brewing Company. Susan founded Women With A Cause, an international organization based in Denver that encourages self reliance and provides business skills to groups of vulnerable women throughout the world.

J. Landis Martin, founder and managing director of Platte River Ventures, chairman of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, vice chair of the Denver Art Museum and chairman emeritus of the Central City Opera House Association, was honored with the Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award for his many contributions to the community.


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