A Letter from Your Chair

Dear friends:

This month, I had dinner with a new member of our Denver Rotary Club. She is an accomplished Flight Commander and Major at United States Air Force Reserve, and she recently returned from having been deployed in Qatar. She is also a graduate of the University of Denver – Josef Korbel School of International Studies where she received an MA in International Security. We met within weeks of the announcement of the loss of Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright, a diplomat and political scientist who served as the 64th United States secretary of state from 1997 to 2001.

You would think that the father of three daughters (and now three granddaughters) that I would have had a deeper understanding of what this loss means to woman from all walks of life. When I told my dinner companion, however, that I was considering putting Madeline Albright on the front cover of our meeting packet, she was forceful in her opinion. So when I confirmed my decision, she gave a fist pump in the air and said “Yes!” If that were not enough, I received an email the next day from our friend, Harriet Downer, thanking me for mentioning Madeline in a recent email broadcast. You see, Harriet too, was a big fan.

For those outside of Colorado, Josef Korbel may be one of the most influential Americans you’ve never heard of. He passed away in 1977, but his legacy lives on in his two most famous students: his daughter, Madeleine Albright, and his star pupil at the University of Denver, Condoleezza Rice.

Korbel was a Czech diplomat in 1948 when the communists staged a coup in his country. He fled Europe and ended up at the University of Denver, where he went on to found the school’s Graduate School of International Studies.

The school’s mission statement says it best “The Josef Korbel School at the University of Denver is preparing the next generation of thinkers, do-ers and leaders to take on the great issues of our time. Through scholarship, teaching and public engagement, we strive to create a more secure, equitable, just, democratic and sustainable world.

We are lucky to have this institution in our community.


John A. Finegan
President & CEO