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One of the University of Minnesota's most distinguished alums--Norman Borlaug

U alumnus and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug with his bronze likeness in Borlaug Hall on the Twin Cities campus.

Norman Borlaug: 90 years strong

By John Byrnes

From eNews, April 1, 2004

On March 25, the University threw a 90th birthday party for one of its most distinguished alums--Norman Borlaug. The guest of honor couldn't be there, so about 100 faculty members, researchers, and students celebrated by his statue in front of Borlaug Hall on the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. This week, the Minnesota Legislature also named October 16 "Dr. Norman E. Borlaug World Food Prize Day." Borlaug, a former University professor, student, and wrestler, started in General College, and eventually earned three degrees from the U--a bachelor's in forestry in 1937 and a master's and doctorate in plant pathology in 1939 and 1942, respectively. He earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for developing the high-yielding wheat that reversed food shortages in India and Pakistan during the 1960s.

Borlaug is only one of four living Nobel Peace Prize winners in America. The other three are former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and former secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The goal of having a Borlaug Day is to recognize a man whose contributions are often unrecognized, says Ronald Phillips, director of the U's Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics, who spoke to legislators in support of establishing the day. Minnesota's observation of the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug World Food Prize Day on October 16 coincides with Iowa's celebration of Borlaug and the World Food Prize that Borlaug helped found. The World Food Prize is an international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world. At the birthday party in Borlaug Hall, Charles Muscoplat, dean of the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences (COAFES), urged researchers and students to follow in Borlaug's footsteps and find new ways to increase food production and reduce hunger. "He is credited with saving more lives than any other scientist and his work hasn't stopped," says Muscoplat. Borlaug will visit the University on Sunday, May 9, to deliver the COAFES commencement address. To send Norman Borlaug belated birthday greetings, see To learn more about Borlaug's life, including his role in the "Green Revolution," see or read the Minnesota magazine's January/February cover story, "Bread and Peace."

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