Nobel Peace Prize Winners Kofi Annan, Oscar Arias in St. Louis to Address Global Higher Ed Conference

May. 20, 2013

ST. LOUIS, MAY 20, 2013 - More than 8,000 international university and college presidents, provosts, professors, administrators and policy experts from approximately 120 countries will be meeting in St. Louis May 26-31 for an annual, six-day NAFSA conference that focuses on the globalization of higher education.

With 10,000 members worldwide, NAFSA is the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education, and its annual conference is the largest gathering of professionals in international education. They will be here to share insights, data and new trends that will impact higher education around the world.

The conference, a lead sponsor of which is Webster University, includes more than 200 sessions and workshops and keynote speeches by Nobel Peace Prize winners Kofi Annan and Oscar Arias, former U.S. Marine and peace activist Rye Barcott. Webster University President Beth Stroble also will speak during the conference, which has booked nearly every hotel room in the downtown area.

The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Center estimates conference attendees have booked nearly 23,000 hotel room nights during the event, which will have an economic impact on the region of roughly $15.7 million, including hotel rooms, restaurant tabs, entertainment and transportation.

"St. Louis is the natural city to host this event because it's at the center of the contiguous United States, and also happens to be the epicenter of international education in the U.S.," said Julian Schuster, provost and senior vice president at Webster University. "Webster University has been in the forefront of international education with campuses on four continents, and students from 148 countries."

Webster also will be hosting events at the Old Post Office downtown for NAFSA attendees in conjunction with Maryville University on May 30. It also will host international university presidents and other VIPs at a St. Louis Cardinals-Kansas City Royals game during the week.
Scheduled keynote speakers are:

• Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and Nobel Peace Laureate, May 28, 4:00 – 5:30 pm.
• Oscar Arias, two-time Costa Rica President and Nobel Peace Laureate, May 31, 12:00 – 1:30 pm.
• Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, world renowned brain surgeon and former migrant farm worker, May 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm.
• Rye Barcott, founder of Carolina for Kibera, peace activist, and former marine, May 30, 4:00 – 5:30 pm.

Other speakers include representatives from local St. Louis institutions and experts on immigration, the Arab Spring, social media, and more. They are:

• Pia Orrenius, former White House senior economist; assistant vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
• Salah Khalil, founder of the Alexandria Trust, a London-based foundation dedicated to advancing world-class education in the Arab world
• Leila Nadya Sadat, special adviser to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda; director of Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law
• Shibley Telhami, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; peace and development professor at University of Maryland-College Park
• George Mehaffy, vice president for academic leadership and change at American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Washington, DC
• Eric Stoller, student affairs and technology blogger for Inside Higher Ed
• Peter MacKeith, associate dean at Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis; curator at Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum
• Harry I. Chernotsky, director of international studies at University of North Carolina-Charlotte
• Gina M. Rosabal, social justice consultant

For more information about the speakers, click on For more information about Webster University, visit