MERCED, CA (Merced Sun-Star) — UC Merced announced Monday that Peter Balakian, an award-winning author and leading voice of the Armenian Genocide recognition, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance.
UC Merced will award the prize to Balakian during an evening ceremony April 12. He’ll give a public speech the next day at 10 a.m. in room 105 of the Classroom and Office Building.
The Spendlove Prize, established through a gift from Sherrie Spendlove in honor of her parents, lifelong Merced residents Alice and Clifford Spendlove, honors one person each year. Previous honorees include former President Jimmy Carter and Merced native Charles Ogletree, a professor of law and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University.
Balakian is the author of the memoir “Black Dog of Fate,” winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable Book. In the book, Balakian writes about learning what his family and ancestors experienced with the Turkish government’s extermination of more than 1 million Armenians in 1915, including many of his relatives. The massacre led to the creation of the word “genocide” and served as a template for Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. A humanities professor at Colgate University in New Jersey, Balakian is the recipient of many awards and prizes and civic citations, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Emily Clark Balch Prize for poetry from the “Virginia Quarterly Review.” He has appeared widely on national television and radio including “60 Minutes,” “ABC World News Tonight,” “Charlie Rose” and “Fresh Air.” Foreign editions of his work have appeared in a dozen languages including Arabic, French, Dutch, Hebrew, Greek and Turkish.
The Spendlove Prize Selection Committee is chaired by Mark Aldenderfer, dean of the UC Merced School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, and includes a representative from the Spendlove family, an undergraduate student, a graduate student, a faculty member and representatives from the UC Merced community.
The Spendlove Prize includes an $8,000
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