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Gorbachev to highlight 2012 Judson World Leaders Forum

Mikhail Gorbachev March 10 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Japaridze)

Mikhail Gorbachev March 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Japaridze)

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Updated: February 13, 2012 9:17AM

ELGIN — Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev will be the keynote speaker April 21 when Judson University hosts its second World Leaders Forum.

“We’re very excited to welcome a leader of President Gorbachev’s stature and world impact to Judson University,” said John Shales, a Judson University trustee and chair of the World Leaders Forum Planning Committee, in a press release on the event.

Gorbachev follows former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was the keynote speaker at the inaugural forum last April.

The release noted that Gorbachev experienced significant social, economic and political changes while he was leader of the former Soviet Union from 1985 to 1991. While in office, he met frequently with then U.S. President Ronald Reagan to discuss global concerns and the impact of the ongoing arms race between the two countries.

Recognizing that the Soviet Union needed political and economic reform, Gorbachev introduced to the world two new words: perestroika (government restructuring) and glasnost (political openness). His leadership eventually contributed to a treaty that reduced the number of nuclear weapons throughout Europe. He also ended the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan, contributed to ending the Cold War and brought about widespread change in the policies and political structures of Eastern Europe and the world.

His achievements were recognized when Gorbachev was named the 1988 Time magazine person of the year and again in 1990 when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. His work and interest in social change within his own country continues today, the release said.

The April 21 event will include a VIP keynote speech and reception at 3 p.m. in the Betty Lindner Campus Commons of Judson’s Elgin campus, along with a second speech for Judson’s students, faculty, staff and alumni at 5:30 p.m. in Herrick Chapel.

For the VIP event, Gorbachev’s keynote presentation will address “Leadership Insights: My Time with Ronald Reagan.” A Q&A will follow the presentation.

Forum leaders believe this year’s event will continue to bring community, business and political leaders together through the VIP Keynote and Reception, which has tickets available to the public, the release said. Ticket and sponsorship information is available at Tickets are $2,000 each, according to the website.

In an effort to train and inspire future world leaders, Judson has planned a Leadership Forum in the Herrick Chapel, where Gorbachev will speak about “Peace in the 21st Century,” the release said. That also will be followed by a Q&A. With limited seating available in the chapel, tickets to this event are only available to Judson students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“We were very intentional about providing an opportunity for our students to benefit from the World Leaders Forum by being in the presence of and inspired by these global leaders,” Shales said. “We’re excited that this year’s speaker continues to represent the global nature of the forum, as President Gorbachev was a significant leader advocating for needed changes that have benefited the world in terms of reducing the number of nuclear weapons and stopping Cold War tensions.”

Bush spoke to more than 1,300 attendees at last year’s forum, recounting stories from his time in the Oval Office and visits with other global leaders.

Proceeds from this year’s World Leaders Forum will be donated to the Entrepreneurial Endowment Fund and the Judson Student Scholarship Fund to assist current Judson students.

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