The Roth Endowment Emeritus Award

2018 Emeritus Award recipient Mark Taplin

The Endowment’s three existing awards for excellence in cultural and educational diplomacy, in partnership with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, are limited to active-duty Department staff. The Roth Endowment’s new Emeritus Award fills a longstanding need to recognize individuals outside US government service. The first award was presented on August 6, 2018.

The Emeritus Award recognizes lifetime contributions to deepening international educational and cultural exchanges, honoring US and foreign awardees from among retired diplomats and others serving this goal. The selection panel forefronts individuals it deems to have fostered international cultural dialogue, including but not restricted to those with a background in government, universities, US non-profits and international NGOs. It is  guided by the attributes exemplified by Lois Roth: deep humanity, wisdom and generosity of spirit, as well as skill, ingenuity, cross-cultural insight, commitment to excellence and mentoring, and a conceptual grasp of the numerous interlinked components affecting education, culture and personal exchanges.

Each year, Endowment Founding Chair and former Foreign Service Officer, Dick Arndt, will convene a group of informed advisors as a selection panel to recommend a ranked shortlist of nominees for selection by the the Endowment Board. This Panel varies from year to year and includes informal representation from Endowment program partners, as well as the preceding year’s Emeritus Award laureate.

This year Mark Taplin received the inaugural Lois Roth Emeritus Award for his career of service in cultural and educational diplomacy abroad and his tours as a principled and courageous policy leader in the ECA Bureau. Through his willingness to communicate openly with colleagues, flexibility and strategic planning, Mark guided the ECA through existential budget threats, proving that the Bureau’s spirit of innovation, productivity and commitment to excellence can survive, and even thrive, in times of great stress. Now retired, Mark is known among his former colleagues for his profound leadership, sense of humor, elegant writing and speaking and his deep-rooted belief in the power and criticality of international exchange.