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2009: Thomas Boyatt

Woodrow Wilson Fellows In Residence

Thomas Boyatt
former ambassador to Burkina Faso and Colombia
Foreign Affairs Council CEO
February 2 – 6, 2009

As a career foreign service officer and a survivor of and hostage negotiator during the 1969 hijacking attempt by Palestinian guerrillas, Ambassador Thomas Boyatt had vast experiences to share with Furman’s community. His lifelong commitment to diplomacy was evident as he reminded students and community that a small investment in peace-making can prevent a huge loss in war.

Highlights of his visit to Furman: 

  • Public address on “The Hundred Years War of the Twentieth Century” to a packed house on Tuesday, February 3rd in Shaw Hall, Younts Conference Center, Furman University
  • Super Bowl Party with faculty and staff
  • Meals and conversations with groups of students, including his favorite, breakfast at Tommy’s Ham House
  • Speaking to students in 11 diverse classes including International Marketing, Colonial Latin America, American Foreign Policy, US History, and the Politics of Good and Evil
  • Coffee and roundtable with history majors
  • Furman faculty discussion
  • Dinner reception with the Riley Institute Advance Team students and discussion on Careers in Foreign Service
  • Reception and Dinner with Furman's Hollingsworth Scholars
  • Visit to Kings Mountain Battlefield with Furman professor Dr. Courtney Tollison 

About Thomas Boyatt 

Thomas D. Boyatt entered the Foreign Service in 1959, serving as Vice Consul in Antofagasta, Chile; Economic Officer at the American Embassy in Luxembourg; and Political Counselor at the Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus. In 1978, Boyatt was chosen to be Ambassador to Upper Volta, and in 1980, he was nominated and confirmed as United States Ambassador to Colombia.

In 1969, Ambassador Boyatt received the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award for risking his life to save passengers and negotiating their release in Syria during the 1969 hijacking of a plane—on which he was a passenger—by Palestinian guerrillas. He also received the William R. Rivkin Award for his leadership in promoting peace on Cyprus, and the Christian A. Herter Award for his contributions to diplomacy. After retiring from the Foreign Service, Ambassador Boyatt became Vice President of Sears World Trade, and then became President of U.S. Defense Systems.

In 2004, Secretary Colin Powell appointed him to the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Leadership and Management. He is now the CEO of the Foreign Affairs Council, a non-partisan group concerned with U.S. diplomacy, and chairs the Political Action Committee of the American Foreign Service Association. In 2008, he received the American Foreign Service Association's Award for "Lifetime Contributions to Diplomacy."