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NMSU's Model UN Team benefit dinner features Ambassador Pickering, keynote speaker

Join New Mexico State University's award-winning Model United Nations team for "A Night at the U.N.," Wednesday, Jan. 20, featuring former U.S. Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, and help send the team to compete at U.N. Headquarters in New York City.

NMSU's Model UN team in New York after winning top honors at the 2009 National Model U.N. competition. A fund-raising dinner Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces will help send this year's team back to U.N. Headquarters in New York for the 2010 competition. (NMSU photo by Jason Ackleson)

The benefit banquet, sponsored by NMSU's International Relations Institute and the Department of Government, will begin at 6 p.m. at the Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, and will also feature a silent auction including dinner for eight at the home of Ambassador and Mrs. Delano Lewis, a set of silver wine bottle stoppers, works by local artists, an authentic Russian lacquer box and other items.

Pickering, who was lauded by the New York Times as "arguably the best-ever senior U.S. representative" to the U.N., and by the late King Hussein of Jordan as "the best American ambassador I've ever dealt with," will deliver the keynote address: "The U.S. and the U.N.: Does it Matter?"

"We live in an interconnected world of global politics and economies," said former U.S. Ambassador Delano Lewis, NMSU Senior Fellow and Director of the International Relations Institute. "NMSU plays an important role forging connections between New Mexico and the larger world through programs like the Model U.N., which teach our students how to succeed in the global arena."

"Ambassador Pickering, through his address, will answer some important questions about the U.N. and the U.S.," Lewis said. "Is the United Nations relevant today? Does it matter that the U.S. is a member? Does the U.N. impact our foreign policy?"

Pickering holds the personal rank of "career ambassador," the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. In a five-decade diplomatic career, he was U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

From 1989 to 1992, he was ambassador and representative to the U.N. He also served as executive secretary of the Department of State and special assistant to Secretaries William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger from 1973 to 1974.

In 1983 and in 1986, Pickering won the Distinguished Presidential Award and, in 1996, the Department of State's highest award - the Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations.

After leaving government service, Pickering was senior vice president for The Boeing Company until his retirement in 2006. He is vice chairman of Hills and Company, consultants to a number of major US enterprises.

NMSU's Model U.N. team has won awards at the last five National Model U.N. conferences. In 2008 and 2009, the team won the national competition's top awards for "Outstanding Delegation" and "Best Position Papers." In 2008, the NMSU team made its first international appearance at the inaugural National Model U.N. competition in Xi'an, China.

"This is an outstanding team, and it deserves our enthusiastic support," said Yosef Lapid, professor of government and the team's interim advisor. "Past NMSU teams have brought honor and success to NMSU, and I am confident they will do very well in this year's competition."

Tickets for the benefit dinner are $60 per person or $600 for a corporate table seating nine corporate members and one student. Organizations purchasing a corporate table will be acknowledged on a banner in the banquet hall. The deadline for purchasing tickets is Jan. 19.

For more information about tickets, contact Owen Cortner at (575) 418-8100 or by e-mail at ocortner@nmsu.edu. To register online and for additional information, visit the banquet's Web site at http://www.nmsu.edu/~govdept/modelun/a-night-at-the-un.html or the International Relations Institute's Web site at http://iri.nmsu.edu/.