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WALLA WALLA, Wash.— Jeffrey D. Sachs, widely considered to be the leading international economic adviser of his generation, has been chosen as the keynote speaker for Whitman College commencement ceremonies planned for Sunday, May 20.

Jeffrey Sachs
Jeffrey Sachs

Sachs, director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and professor of health policy and management at Columbia University. He is special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and from 2002-2006 he served as director of the United Nations Millennium Project as well as special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed upon goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease and hunger by the year 2015.

In addition to giving the Whitman commencement address, Sachs will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during commencement ceremonies, at which approximately 365 students will graduate.

The only academic to have been repeatedly ranked among the world’s most influential people by Time magazine, Sachs is also known for his work as an economic adviser to governments in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa. He is also known for his work with international agencies on problems of poverty reduction, debt cancellation and disease control—especially HIV/AIDS. He is a leading voice for combining economic development with environmental sustainability, and as director of The Earth Institute leads large-scale efforts to promote the mitigation of human-induced climate change.

The End of Poverty

His book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time is used in numerous economics classes, and his syndicated newspaper column appears in more than 50 countries around the world. He is a frequent contributor to major publications such as The New York Times, the Financial Times of London and the Scientific American magazine. His numerous honors and awards include the 2005 Sargent Shriver Award for Equal Justice.

Prior to his arrival at Columbia in 2002, Sachs spent more than 20 years at Harvard University, most recently as Director of the Center for International Development and Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade. He was born in Detroit, Michigan, received his B.A., summa cum laude, from Harvard College in 1976, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1978 and 1980, respectively.