CNN founder and philanthropist Ted Turner will be awarded the 2001 Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism, the university announced this weekend. The Gold Medal will be awarded at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony on Monday, Oct. 1, in Shriver Hall on the Homewood campus.
Turner's efforts to promote world peace, to protect and preserve the environment and to fight disease and promote health in Africa were cited as the reasons for Turner's receiving the award, which Johns Hopkins administers for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Turner's longtime, passionate efforts in those areas reflect a profound commitment to what Schweitzer called "Reverence for Life," said Lachlan Forrow, a member of the committee that selected Turner for the award.
"These are the issues that Albert Schweitzer dedicated his life to and that Ted has dedicated himself to today," Forrow said. "He is a particularly appropriate candidate to receive this award."
The Schweitzer Gold Medal, named for medical missionary, theologian and musician Albert Schweitzer, was established in New York in 1986 by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to honor von Humboldt's service to humanity and to advance humanitarianism in the United States by recognizing exceptional achievement in the service of humanitarian causes. Previous recipients include former President George Bush, who received the award in 1997 for his role in negotiating the peaceful unification of Germany. Recipients of the parallel Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, also administered by Johns Hopkins for the foundation, have included Jimmy Carter, Marian Wright Edelman, Norman Cousins and C. Everett Koop.
Turner, perhaps best known as the creator of CNN, the 24-hour all-news network, is currently vice chairman and senior adviser of AOL Time Warner. Over the years, he has been a passionate environmentalist as well as a creative and courageous pioneer in efforts to promote world peace. Creator of the Goodwill Games that brought U.S. and Soviet athletes together at the height of the Cold War, Turner today is a vocal advocate for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, a cause to which Schweitzer dedicated much of the last decade of his life.
In 1997, Turner pledged $1 billion over 10 years to the United Nations Foundation to promote a more peaceful, prosperous and just world, and he called upon others with extraordinary wealth to engage in similar levels of philanthropy.
"Ted Turner has worked to preserve and protect the environment, and through his Turner Foundation has probably given more money than any other environmentalist to support the conservation of natural resources, the protection of wildlife and the promotion of sound population policies," said Forrow, a physician and faculty member of the Harvard Medical School, as well as president of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. "He has also worked to improve health care and contributed to the fights against AIDS, HIV, polio and other diseases."
Turner's vision for a news outlet that could provide timely, balanced news to a worldwide audience also has contributed greatly to the creation of a global village and more understanding among countries and cultures, Forrow said.
Two Alexander von Humboldt foundations, named for the eminent German scientist and explorer, were created by Alfred Toepfer, an international grain merchant from Hamburg, Germany. The goal of both the European branch, chartered in 1959, and the branch based in New York, chartered in 1979, is to assist and promote environmental conservation; scientific, literary and charitable endeavors; and the moral, mental and physical welfare of young people.
Hopkins was selected to administer the U.S. foundation's Gold Medal because of the special ties that exist between Germany and the university. Hopkins was founded in 1876 as the first American university for graduate studies based on the German model of making education an intricate part of the research process, and the university's first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, studied at the University of Berlin. Today, the university maintains ties to Germany through the work of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and through a European office located in Berlin.