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The SLLC Advisory Board Award

The Award was established by the Advisory Board in 2017. It is intended to honor a  KU graduate who has made a significant contribution in a field related to the SLLC's mission: understanding the world through the study of languages, literatures and cultures, past and present.



Dan Davidson (President Emeritus, American Councils, and Director, American Councils Research Center) 

Dr. Davidson (BA, Russian and German, Kansas; Ph.D., Slavic Languages, Harvard University) is Senior Academic Advisor and President Emeritus of American Councils for International Education (Washington, D. C.) and Professor of Russian and Second Language Acquisition, Bryn Mawr College. He is author/editor of 44 books and 65 scholarly articles on Russian language, culture and international education. Davidson was named in 2015 to the Commission on Languages, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the Russian Academy of Education, the Ukrainian Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, Vice-President of the International Association of Teachers of Russian (MAPRIAL), and past chair of the College Board World Languages Advisory Committee, the Joint National Committee for Languages, and the Alliance for International Education Exchange.

"For over 40 years Dan has been a major advocate for second language acquisition and an inspirational leader in the field of international education.  Moreover, from the time that the SLLC was first established in 2014, Dan has been one of its most important supporters and advisors.  And I am proud to add that, beginning tomorrow, Dan will join us as a member of the SLLC Board of Advisors."

- Rex Niswander, Chair, SLLC Advisory Board (Fall 2015- Spring 2018)




Kenton Keith

"Each year the SLLC Advisory Board recognizes a graduate of one of KU's SLLC departments who has made a contribution in a related field.  As a 1961 graduate of KU with a double major in French and International Relations, this year's recipient Ambassador Kenton Keith has achieved a great deal in the foreign service arena, as Ambassador to Qatar as well as a distinguished career with the US Information Agency around the globe.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Keith participated in naval ROTC while at KU, and then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1965.  He joined the US Information Agency in 1965, doing his Arabic language training in Beirut, Lebanon before his first USIA posting to Baghdad, Iraq.  

From 1992 to 1995 he served as Ambassador to the State of Qatar. Previous assignments were Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs in Cairo, Senior Cultural Affairs Officer in Paris and various posts in the Near East, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco, Syria plus Brazil, having served USIA for 32 years as a Foreign Service Officer.  In 1996 Ambassador Keith served as USIA representative to the interagency planning team charged with designing the reorganization of foreign affairs agencies, before retiring from government service in 1997.. At the time of his retirement, Ambassador Keith was Director of USIA’s Office of North African, Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, with the rank of Career Minister, managing field operations, public diplomacy activities and budget for the Agency’s largest geographical bureau.

Ambassador Keith assumed the duties of Senior Vice President for Programming of the American Academy of Diplomacy in late 1997 after his retirement. Keith then took the position of Senior Vice President of Meridian International Center, the largest private partner with the Department of State for the design and implementation of the International Visitor Leadership Program.  In the aftermath of 9/11, he was called back to government service to set up, direct, and serve as spokesman for the allied information center coalition in Islamabad during the invasion of Afghanistan to uproot Al-Qaeda forces.

Considered one of the most prominent public diplomacy officers of his generation, Ambassador Keith has received two Presidential service awards and various individual and group superior and meritorious honor awards, including one for his work at the 1991 Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid.  He was named a Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters, an honor conferred by the French government in recognition of his contribution to reviving the Fulbright exchange program.  He was the recipient of the 2016 Foreign Service Cup, awarded by DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired), for continuing contributions to foreign affairs after retirement.

Ambassador Keith is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the Association of Black American Ambassadors.  He has served on the boards of PartnersGlobal for Democratic Change, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, Global Ties, the Humane Rescue Alliance and Artworks for Freedom.  Keith recently joined the KU CLAS Advisory Board. He lectures extensively on public diplomacy, international education and Middle East Affairs.  Due to his travel schedule, he cannot be here in person, but sends his regards to all.

It is with our pleasure that we award Ambassador Kenton Keith this year's SLLC Advisory Board Distinguished Service Award for his career in international education.  His are achievements that all of our students and alumni aspire to, using their languages and cultural acumen to make the world a better place for future generations."

-Betty Kagan, Chair, SLLC Advisory Board (Spring 2018 - present)

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