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2009: Madeleine Kunin

Fellows in Residence

Madeleine Kunin
former Ambassador to Switzerland and Governor of Vermont
September 20 - 22, 2009

Passionate about education, the environment, and the need for more women to hold elected office, Governor Kunin inspired students, faculty, and community members during her time at Furman. Particularly in South Carolina, where female elected officials are rare, Governor Kunin’s message that more women are needed in politics was an important and timely one.

Highlights of her visit to Furman:

  • Public address on “Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women can Win and Lead” on September 21st in Shaw Hall, Younts Conference Center, Furman University
  • Roundtable and reception with female leaders from across the state of South Carolina
  • Guest speaker in a Furman class on public policy and administration
  • Coffee with Furman faculty
  • Conversation and lunch with the Riley Institute Advance Team students
  • Breakfast at Stax with Advance Team students
          

About Governor Kunin

Kunin graduated with a B.S. cum laude from the University of Massachusetts; a M.S. from Columbia University; a M.A. from the University of Vermont; Program for State and Local Government and Fellow, Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Madeleine Kunin is a former Vermont state legislator (1972-1978), Lieutenant Governor (1978-1982), and Governor of Vermont (1985-1991).

She has a dual appointment at the University of Vermont in Burlington and St. Michael's College in Colchester, in the departments of Political Science, as Distinguished Visiting Professor. She is giving guest lectures in a number of departments, including history and Women's Studies. She is teaching a seminar in "Women, Politics, and Leadership."

She serves as President of the board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) a non-governmental organization that she founded in 1991. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also a regular commentator on Vermont Public Radio. Previously Kunin was the Bicentennial Fellow-in-Residence at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where she lectured on a variety of subjects, including her recent experience as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland (1996-99) as well as on education, politics, the environment, leadership and women's issues. She was a Fellow of The Institute of Politics, Kennedy School, Harvard University and a Fellow at Harvard's Bunting Institute.

During her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, she dealt with the question of Jewish World War II assets and Nazi-looted gold. She helped to prod Switzerland to confront its past and take action. At the same time she worked to maintain a positive relationship between Switzerland and the United States, two countries that have a long-standing friendship. Her knowledge of languages and government, and her familiarity with Switzerland, the country of her birth, enabled her to be an effective ambassador. Prior to her appointment as ambassador, she served for three and a half years as U.S. deputy secretary of education in the Clinton Administration. As chief operating officer of the department, Kunin served on the president's management council, which dealt with "reinventing government."

While at the U.S. Department of Education, Kunin played a key role in establishing a more efficient system of managing student loans, initiated an office of education.