Amid allegations that he falsified parts of his best-selling books “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools,” author Greg Mortenson has turned down the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Award in Education.
Discrepancies between reality and Mortenson’s written accounts of travels in Afghanistan and Pakistan were outlined in a 60 Minutes report in April. The report also raised questions about Mortenson’s use of money meant for his nonprofit organization, the Central Asia Institute, which he co-founded. Afterward, U of L officials declined to say whether Mortenson’s award was in question, however the University of Georgia vacated a similar award meant for the author.
Mortenson was set to receive the Grawemeyer and speak at U of L next week. In a statement, U of L officials say the author spoke with Provost Shirley Willihnganz and turned down the award. Mortenson is quoted in the statement saying “I wish to humbly decline the Grawemeyer Award as a way to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of all those who have gone before us and those who continue to promote peace through education.”
The full statement from U of L:
The University of Louisville today announced that Greg Mortenson has decided to decline the university’s prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Education.
Mortenson is author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones Into Schools.” He was selected for the award based on his efforts to build schools and educate children, especially girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In declining the award, Mortenson called it “a great honor” to be selected for the prestigious award but said there are many other deserving individuals.
“I wish to humbly decline the Grawemeyer Award as a way to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of all those who have gone before us and those who continue to promote peace through education,” Mortenson said.
Mortenson had been scheduled to come to Louisville Sept. 23 to speak and accept the award. But in conversations with UofL Provost Shirley Willihnganz, Mortenson indicated that he no longer wished to accept the award.
“We, like millions of others, have been inspired by Greg’s work and we share his commitment to education and to his belief that we can provide a more peaceful future for all our children through knowledge and friendship,” Willihnganz said.
While the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Education will not be given out this year, Willihnganz said the university will provide $50,000 in privately funded scholarships (unrelated to the Grawemeyer endowment) to students who decide to major in education and agree to teach in Louisville’s poorest schools.
Five $100,000 Grawemeyer Awards are presented each year for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology, education and religion. To learn more about the awards, go to http://grawemeyer.org/