Sam Nunn to Receive Inaugural Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage

Award Destined to Become One of Georgia's Most Prestigious

One of the nation’s most respected and visionary leaders on defense and national security – former United States Senator Sam Nunn – has been named the inaugural recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage, Georgia Institute of Technology President G.P. “Bud” Peterson announced today. Nunn will be honored at the Ivan Allen College’s Founder’s Day luncheon on March 15, an event that coincides with Allen’s birthday.

“While some individuals talk about achieving world peace, Sam Nunn has actively pursued this vision and created a legacy that continues to reap results long after his exit from public office,” said Peterson. “The Ivan Allen Prize for Social Courage stands as the preeminent award offered by Georgia Tech and underscores the mission we have in Georgia, the nation and the world.”

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn
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Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn

During his 24-year tenure as a United States Senator from Georgia, Nunn served as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In this capacity, he was the guiding force in reshaping American policy toward the former Soviet Union in the wake of the break-up of the Soviet Empire. The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which provides assistance to Russia and the former Soviet republics for securing and destroying their excess nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, has been hailed as “the most significant congressional achievement in nuclear affairs since the dawn of the nuclear age.”

Announced earlier this year, the new Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage was established to recognize individuals like Nunn, who, by standing up for clear moral principles in the social arena, have positively affected public discourse at the risk of their own careers, livelihoods and even their lives. The Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage will be accompanied by a $100,000 award to be funded by the income from a $2 million commitment made in 2008 by the Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation.

“Sam Nunn embodies the moral and ethical principles of Atlanta’s former mayor and it is certainly fitting that he will be the first recipient of this distinguished award,” said Jacqueline Jones Royster, dean of Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

Although Nunn retired from the U.S. Senate in 1996, he has continued to provide leadership against the dangers of terrorism and nuclear weapons. Together with fellow Georgian and CNN founder Ted Turner, he established the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that focuses on reducing global threats from weapons of mass destruction. Next year, NTI will be celebrating its 10th anniversary, having made significant achievements with a lasting legacy to make the world a safer place.

NTI triggered significant U.S. and global funding for securing loose nuclear bomb-making material through its bold initiative to remove vulnerable materials from Yugoslavia. The organization also conceived of and helped create the first international organization focused on nuclear security, the World Institute for Nuclear Security. Most recently, NTI, through the generosity of Warren Buffett, supported the development of an international nuclear fuel bank, which gives countries an alternative to producing their own nuclear fuel and avoiding the introduction of technology that can be used either for peaceful reactors or for creating bombs.

In an effort to galvanize global support for and action on the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and the urgent steps needed to reach that goal, Nunn joined former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Their Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2007 reframed the terms of the global debate on nuclear issues.

Nunn serves as chairman of the board of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work with NTI and CSIS, Nunn is also co-chair of the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative (EASI), an international commission sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, aimed at identifying the challenges and opportunities for strengthening cooperation in Euro-Atlantic security.

In addition, Nunn serves as a distinguished professor in Georgia Tech’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs.  He received an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from Georgia Tech in 2008 and was the recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Progress and Service in 2004.

The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs within the Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts was created in 1990 and named in honor of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn in 1996. The only school of its kind at a major technological university, the Sam Nunn School is committed to a new model of professional education in international affairs that focuses on understanding the global context of advances in science, technology and policy. Nunn School alumni are distinguished leaders in the fields of policy, law, business, education, communications, and the non-profit sector. 

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the world's premier research universities. Ranked seventh among U.S. News & World Report's top public universities and the eighth best engineering and information technology university in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Academic Ranking of World Universities, Georgia Tech’s more than 20,000 students are enrolled in its Colleges of Architecture, Computing, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Management and Sciences. Tech is among the nation's top producers of women and minority engineers. The Institute offers research opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students and is home to more than 100 interdisciplinary units plus the Georgia Tech Research Institute.