The Roth Endowment Emeritus Award

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.

Penny Egan receiving her Emeritus Award from 2018 recipient, Mark Taplin

Penny Egan received the 2019 Lois Roth Emeritus Award for her lifetime of contributions to the field of cultural diplomacy, with a focus on international education. During her twelve-year tenure as Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission, Penny forged stronger educational links between the US and UK, gaining increased funding for American pre- and post-doctoral scholars to study at the top research universities in the UK. She also took important steps towards making international education more accessible through her creation of the Social Mobility Program, which provides funding for underprivileged UK undergraduates to attend American universities. Penny’s dedication to cultural and educational diplomacy has provided opportunities for hundreds of students to enrich their educational experience, and in doing so has fostered continued cultural exchange between the US and UK.

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, Founding Chair of the Roth Endowment 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.

For a complete list of Emeritus Award recipients, please consult our Emeritus Award Recipients page.