STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State formally honored history professor emeritus Janos Radvanyi for his achievements at the land-grant institution, including the founding of the university's internationally recognized Center for International Security and Strategic Studies.
During a campus banquet last week, the former Hungarian diplomat also was celebrated for his 90th birthday.
A recurring theme during the evening event was Radvanyi's lifelong passion for service, primarily through international diplomacy.
"Dr. Radvanyi is a man of courage, and also a man of humility; he has a passion for peace, freedom and a better world," said retired Vice Adm. Eduardo Ma R Santos, former Philippine navy chief and, later, first president of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific;
Santos, a Radvanyi friend, was among five speakers paying tribute. Others included:
--James Kraska, a former Radvanyi student now holding the Howard S. Levie Chair of Operational Law at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
--Retired Rear Adm. Sumihiko Kawamura of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and vice president of the Okazaki Institute, who along with his own tribute, read a letter from Shotaro Yachi, former vice minister of foreign affairs of Japan;
--James E. Auer, the director of the Center for U.S.-Japan Studies and Cooperation at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Public Policy Studies;
--William D. "Billy" Mounger, Jackson businessman who served among Ronald Reagan's advisers and was former Sen. Trent Lott's long-time fund-raising chairman; and
--Lewis Brown, MSU research professor emeritus of microbiology.
After the tributes, Radvanyi was presented a plaque by Jerry Gilbert, provost and executive vice president. "I am very fortunate to have touched history through you," Gilbert said.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman also read a proclamation naming Radvanyi as an honorary ambassador of the city.
"It is truly humbling to be associated with such greatness," Wiseman said. "You have given us much through your service to the university and the community."
The event was organized by MSU's Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, along with Radvanyi friends and former students.
Prior to receiving political asylum in the United States in 1968, Radvanyi was Hungary's ambassador to the United States.
After having relocated to California to complete a doctorate in history at Stanford University, he joined the history faculty at MSU in 1972. He founded the Center for International Security and Strategic Studies a decade later and, in 1996, the university named him the first chair holder for the newly established ISSS chair.
In 1994, the now free and independent Republic of Hungary honored Radvanyi for his achievements through the MSU center to help it begin erasing nearly 40 years of communist mismanagement. The Award for Development of Foreign Economy cited his achievements in strengthening Hungary's ties with the U.S. and Japan.