Rhodes Board Chair Receives Jefferson Medal in Citizen Leadership

A man stands in his suit, looking directly at the camera.

Rhodes College Board of Trustees Chair Cary Fowler received the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership. As this year’s honoree, Dr. Fowler gave the keynote address at Monticello in Charlottesville, Va. during Jefferson’s 275th Birthday Celebration.

Fowler is the former executive director of Global Crop Diversity Trust, an independent international organization that provides support for the ongoing operations of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. The vault houses seeds from gene banks around the world as insurance against the loss of seeds during natural or man-made disasters. 

In the 1990s, Fowler headed the team that produced the UN’s first global assessment of the state of the world’s plant genetic resources for agriculture. He also led the international committee that proposed and designed the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Fowler has been profiled by CBS’ “60 Minutes” and The New Yorker and has received many national and international awards and recognitions. He is the subject of an award winning feature documentary film, “Seeds of Time.”

Fowler, a member of the Rhodes Class of 1971, grew up in Memphis and graduated from White Station High School.  In 2011, the college awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership, sponsored by the University of Virginia (UVA) and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.