2005 Events

November 11, 2005 - Kassahun Ayele,
Ambassador of Ethiopia to the US



The guest of honor for the UVSC Global Awareness Week (October 6-12,2005) was H.E. Kassahun Ayele, Ambassador to the United States for the Republic of Ethiopia. He was accompanied by his Senior Second Secretary for Trade and Investment, Mr. Fitsum Hailu.

The Ambassador spent his visit lecturing to UVSC students about Ethiopia, visiting with representatives from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, meeting with the first presidency of the LDS church, and mingling with the local Ethiopians and sightseeing.

Mr. Ayele and Mr. Hailu were especially eager to meet with Utah businesses interested in doing business in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s main exports to the U.S. are apparel, leather products, oilseeds, pulses, spices and coffee. Ethiopia also provides extensive opportunities to investors in the areas of agriculture and agro-processing (sugar cane, cereal and cotton production), textile, hydro-power generation, mining and tourism development. Mr. Ayele was impressed with UVSC academics, the friendliness of Utahns, and the beauty of the mountains.



The Ambassador and Mr. Hailu on UVSC Campus

Students and Luncheon

The Ambassador with UVSC Students and Faculty and at a Luncheon Hosted for the Ambassador

October 24-29, 2005 - Count Nikolai Tolstoy,
Writer and Historian


Count Nikolai Tolstoy with UVSC President Sederburg


Nikolai Tolstoy, who is the head of the senior branch of the Tolstoy family and a stepson of the well-known British writer Patrick O'Brian (author of the famous naval series Master and Commander), lectured at UVSC during the week of October 24-29, 2005. A distinguished writer and a historian himself, Tolstoy published a book Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist, the first of two volumes of a biography of his step-father, who died in 2000.

UVSC students had a chance to hear unique and never-before published stories about the life of Patrick O'Brian and about the making of the movie "The Far Side of the World" based on Master and Commander series and starring Russell Crowe.


Deseret Morning News:  October 30, 2005 

Written by:  Elaine Jarvik

He's a Tolstoy. Like Shakespeare and Rockefeller and Huntsman, the name brings with it a certain cachet. And a certain burden.

If you're a Tolstoy, a distant cousin of the famous Russian author Leo, it's important to live up to the name, not just use it to your advantage, says Count Nikolai Tolstoy. If your name is Tolstoy and you're related to the long line of Russian aristocrats and artists, "you should earn your own way," he says. Like his famous long-dead cousin, Count Tolstoy is a writer. Born and reared in England after his family was forced to flee the Russian Revolution, he is chancellor of the Monarchist League and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1987 he received an International Freedom Award from the U.S. Industrial Council Educational Foundation for his "courageous search for the truth about the victims of totalitarianism and deceit."

All these honors, and more, are listed on Tolstoy's Web site, along with this surprising title: adjunct professor at Utah Valley State College. This past week he was in Orem as a visiting scholar in the college's Institute of International Affairs. He hopes to return next spring.

Tolstoy's association with UVSC began in the early 1990s, at the invitation of then-President Kerry Romesburg, who also offered to host Tolstoy's Web site — because at home in England, Tolstoy was embroiled in a fierce legal battle. "Let an English judge try forcing an injunction on an American university," Romesburg told Tolstoy.

The legal battle, which Tolstoy describes in perfect British understatement as "some little problems," began when he was sued for libel by Lord Aldington and ordered to pay $1.5 million in pounds in 1989. Tolstoy had criticized the Harold Macmillan government for the forced repatriation of war prisoners after World War II, a move that had sent tens of thousands of Russians and Yugoslavians into Stalinist gulags (prisons.) Tolstoy also wrote a pamphlet specifically accusing Lord Aldington of war crimes, and it was this pamphlet that led to the libel charge.

Tolstoy contested the libel award, and in 1998, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled it was a violation of Tolstoy's freedom of expression, Lord Aldington agreed to a much smaller sum. The whole ordeal made Tolstoy a cause celebre, but it also has kept his book, "The Minister and the Massacres," off most British library shelves. For a time during the protracted lawsuit, Tolstoy was too caught up in the legal fight to write books. Before then he had been a prolific writer of histories about World War II, Stalin, Arthurian Legends and 24 generations of Tolstoys. After the suit was finally settled, he took up writing again and recently published a biography of his stepfather, Patrick O'Brian, author of "Master and Commander"

The count is the heir of the senior line of the Tolstoy family in the male line and is related to the author of "War and Peace" through a common ancestor in the 1700s. It's a distant relationship, but, as Tolstoy says, "we're not a big family," so "we all regard each other as cousins." He is British by birth and upbringing, but his heart is "always with Russia." Besides, he says, "it would be strange, or ridiculous, to be a Tolstoy and not a Russian." His mother, who was British, divorced his father when Tolstoy was 4. His father then married a Russian woman of whom Tolstoy wasn't particularly fond. So it was kind of an unhappy childhood, he says. He can relate to his kin Leo's famous first line of "Anna Karenina," another of the Russian author's celebrated novels: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Still, he doesn't agree with his cousin's implication that happy families are dull. He and his own wife, Georgina, and their four children have been very happy, he says. "I'd say a happy family is much more interesting than an unhappy one. You're freer to develop your potential in a happy family. In an unhappy family you tend to use up so much of your energy."


Daily Herald:  October 28, 2005

Written by:  Anna Chang-Yen

Textbooks, novels, historical works, the first diary recorded in Russia -- they all are the work of Nikolai Tolstoy's ancestors. But perhaps the distinction that draws the most attention is the fact that his grandfather's cousin was Leo Tolstoy, author of "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina.”

Nikolai Tolstoy, who also is the step-son of novelist Patrick O'Brian, told attendees at a reception in his honor at Utah Valley State College on Thursday that his family enjoys a legacy of literature and creativity. Sometimes, he said, the connection leads to confusion. At the premiere of the Russian film "War and Peace," Tolstoy was seated at a table with dignitaries including a young Russian actress. The actress ignored him for most of the night, he said, but after he was introduced, she asked, "Why didn't you tell me you were the screenwriter?"

Tolstoy has written British history books and novels and is the senior Tolstoy family member in the world. He holds the family heirloom, the Cross of Saint Spyridon, given by Czar Vasily the Blind in the 1400s to his ancestor Andrei, the first to have the Tolstoy name. He also is an adjunct professor at UVSC and has visited the college three times to lecture. Rusty Butler, assistant vice president for international affairs, said Tolstoy is one of the most famous Russian names in America, and described Tolstoy as "what I call the true European gentleman."

Tolstoy visited campus this week to discuss his newest book, "Patrick O'Brian: The Making of the Novelist" the first of two volumes of a biography of his step-father, who died in 2000. He described O'Brian, the author of the "Master and Commander" series of novels about the 18th-century British navy, as "quite a difficult and eccentric character." He said O'Brian once was lucky to escape serious injury when he fell off of a ladder on which he had braced a harpoon. And when he decided to knock down a wall using dynamite, a piece of stone narrowly missed Tolstoy's mother's head. "I was nearly orphaned." Tolstoy came to know O'Brian only after he turned 18, because his mother, Mary, had deserted the family and was barred under British law from contacting her children after she remarried.

"My mother was completely devoted to Patrick," he said, noting that she typed 51 of his novels and was his "best critic." O'Brian had lukewarm success for most of his career, but his "Master and Commander" series gained popularity in his later life and was made into a movie starring Russell Crowe in 2003. Although historical movies are often "from a historian's point of view, too dreadful for words," Tolstoy said, he called "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" a brilliant film.

Dudley Hagen of Arlington, VA, who was attending the reception while visiting a friend and professor at UVSC, said he had read all 20 of the "Master and Commander" novels -- twice. He asked Tolstoy how, on a modest income, O'Brian was able to research the topic and write with such accuracy. "He had simply mastered that period to such an extent that I felt as bewildered as I probably would if I could be transported there in a time machine," he said.

O'Brian had little education, but he was fascinated with the 18th-century British navy, and writing about the subject "just came to him instinctively," Tolstoy said. "That was one of the extraordinary things about him." He read every available book written in the 18th century about the navy, and referred to an 18th-century version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. "He read the books, then turned his back on them and wrote."

July 25, 2005 - Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson,
President of Iceland


Breakfast with President Grímsson

May 9, 2005 - Ravdan Bold,
Ambassador of Mongolia to the US


His Excellency Ravdan Bold, Ambassador of Mongolia to the United States and his wife, Mijiddorj Oyuun Bold visited Utah, May8-12, 2005. Honorary Consul to Mongolia in the State of Utah, Malan Jackson hosted the Ambassador. UVSC has recruited and encouraged Mongolian students to attend UVSC. There have been over 200 students at UVSC the last few years, and several trainings have been held here for Mongolian educators.

Ambassador Bold lectured at UVSC and BYU on the current state of affairs in Mongolia. He expressed his government’s goal to have 10,000 or more Mongolian students attend colleges and universities in English speaking countries. The effort coincides with Mongolia’s decision to make English its second national language.

The Ambassador also spoke on Mongolia’s position between the “two giants” of Russia and China. Trying to keep peace with both countries and still foster a relationship with the United States has proven difficult at times, but Ambassador Bold is optimistic about Mongolia’s efforts to modernize and become a bigger player on the world stage.

Governor Huntsman also met with Ambassador to further develop relations between Utah and Mongolia through education and business exchanges.

For more information about Ambassador Bold's visit to UVSC as referenced in a Deseret News article http://www.deseretnews.com/article/600132667/Ambassador-says-Mongolia-embracing-Western-culture.html?pg=all

Dance Performers

Ambassador Bold viewing a cultural dance event and meeting the performers.


Ambassador Bold lecturing and speaking with attendees.

March 22, 2005 - Zac Nsenga,
Ambassador of Rwanda to the US

His Excellency, Dr. Zac Nsenga, the Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States in Washington D.C. and his wife, Mrs. Eron Nsenga, came to visit Utah on March 20-21, 2005. Dr. Nsenga was educated at Makerere University, Kampala, with a medical degree. He also studied at the University of Westminster with a MA in Diplomatic Studies. Dr. Nsenga is a former Ambassador to Israel, United Kingdom, Nordic Countries & Ireland.

Ambassador’s visit to UVSC coincided with the upcoming month of remembering the genocide. “Every year, during the month of April, Rwandans take time off from the hustle and bustle of trying to earn a living to remember the innocents who died during the genocide of 1994. The statistics are well known. In the space of less than 100 days, we lost over 1 million people. That is more than 10,000 people per day, including Sundays”, stated Ambassador Richard Sezibera in his remarks dedicated to the 2002 genocide commemoration.

Dr. Nsenga delivered a touching lecture to UVSC students and public entitled “Never, Never Again! Rwanda Genocide” on Monday, March 21, 2005 in UVSC Ragan Theater. The topic was fresh on the minds of the audience after the recent release of Hollywood’s "Hotel Rwanda". The Ambassador thinks that the movie describes the genocide in general terms; however, it is good enough to get the message out about the tragedy to the American people. Dr. Nsenga talked about Rwanda, the 1994 genocide and measures that have been taken by the government to ensure that genocide does not happen again.

Dr. Nsenga is hopeful that the people of Rwanda will continue to utilize Gacaca (community tribunal for genocide suspects), go through the healing process and build a unified and democratic society.

Dance Group

African dance group performs for Ambassador Nsenga.


Ambassador Nsenga lectures at UVSC.

Governor Huntsman

The Ambassador and Mrs. Eron Nsenga meet Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr.

January 12, 2005 - Chan Heng Chee,
Ambassador of Singapore to the US

President Sederburg

Ambassador Chee with President Sederburg and Associate VP, Rusty Butler.