John Beyrle, Grand Valley alumnus and former ambassador to the Russian Federation, was awarded the Hauenstein Fellowship Medal from the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.
Beyrle received the medal, one of the highest honors the university can give, after his remarks February 8 at the Grand Rapids Economic Club luncheon in Grand Rapids.
The medal was presented by Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas; David Hooker, chair of the Grand Valley Board of Trustees; and Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center.
Beyrle graduated from Grand Valley in 1975 and served as an American diplomat for three decades in foreign postings and domestic assignments focused on Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and Russia. He served as ambassador to Russia from 2008-2012 implementing policies that led to improved U.S.-Russian relations, highlighted by the signing of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
During his remarks, Beyrle said it is important to continue to find ways to stay engaged with Russia.
"I see a difference that has evolved over the past 25 years that gives some cause for optimism, and that is in the Russian society itself," said Beyrle. "People are now connected globally - some travel abroad, some are employed by U.S. companies and others are getting a global education."
Beyrle thanked Grand Valley for the Fellowship Medal and singled out some of his professors for helping shape his career path.
The Fellowship Medal is periodically awarded to a distinguished public servant whose achievements are consistent with the ethical leadership and public service of Col. Ralph W. Hauenstein, the namesake of the center.
Hauenstein died January 10 in Grand Rapids at the age of 103.
Previous recipients include Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Secretary of State James Baker, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and President Gerald R. Ford, posthumously.
For more information, visit www.hauensteincenter.org.