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Kofi Annan leaves 'powerful' legacy at Macalester College

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UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan at Macalester College.
Macalester College president Brian Rosenberg (left) and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in conversation at Macalester College on May 7, 2018. Annan graduated from Macalester in 1961. Approximately 3,000 people attended from the Macalester community. The Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship was dedicated that day.
Courtesy of Macalester College

The president of St. Paul's Macalester College said former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan leaves a "powerful" legacy at the school.

Annan, who died Saturday at age 80, was born in Ghana and finished his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester, graduating in 1961. From there he went to Geneva, where he began his graduate studies in international affairs and launched his U.N. career.

During his celebrated diplomatic career, Annan returned to the college several times — most recently in May, when Macalester dedicated the Kofi Annan Institute for Global Citizenship on campus.

Speaking with MPR News on Saturday, Macalester President Brian Rosenberg said Annan was "the most famous and most visible embodiment of the mission of the college. We're a place that focuses a lot on global citizenship, and on service, and on peace, and Kofi has always been for us a symbol of that, and a motivating factor for everyone on campus. ...

Kofi Annan
Nelson Mandela and former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan arrive together at the fifth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, held at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 22, 2007.
Associated Press 2007

"He is someone who believed that everyone, regardless of nationality or race or economic class, was entitled to basic human rights. Over the course of his life and over the course of his career, he really became an embodiment of the fight for human rights, and the belief that peace is always better than war. ...

"He had enormous faith in what he called the 'young people.' He really believed that students at Macalester and all over the world had the possibility to make the world a better place. He knew that it took hard work and patience and courage, and he tried to inspire all of us to keep working to make our lives and the lives of others better — and I think that's a powerful legacy and something we should carry with us every day."

Rosenberg announced Saturday that both the U.S. and U.N. flags, which fly side-by-side on campus, would be flown at half-staff in Annan's honor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.