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Fontbonne Cancels Greg Mortenson's Commencement Speech

Categories: Books, Education

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Mortenson meets children in rural Pakistan.
​It's been a pretty rough two weeks for best-selling author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson, ever since 60 Minutes ran an expose about how important parts of his two books Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools had been fabricated and that Mortenson was misusing donations to his non-profit, the Central Asian Institute, and treating the organization's treasury, in the words of one former employee, "like his own personal ATM."

After issuing a written response to the allegations in the 60 Minutes report, Mortenson has lapsed into radio silence, citing health problems -- and probably hoping that if he stayed quiet long enough the whole thing would blow away.

This silence extended to the administration of Fontbonne University, which had engaged Mortenson to be the commencement speaker next month. The school also planned to award Mortenson an honorary degree.

But when university officials tried repeatedly to reach Mortenson to talk about the allegations, the author, curiously, did not respond.

In the end, the Faculty General Assembly voted to rescind both the speaking offer and the honorary degree, a decision seconded by the student government.

"The purpose of our commencement is to honor Fontbonne graduates," Fontbonne's president Dennis Golden said in a prepared statement. "We want to focus on their achievements and accomplishments."

Fontbonne is not the first college to cancel a scheduled speech by Mortenson.

The university administration has now gone as silent as Mortenson. Daily RFT will keep you posted if there is any more news.

In the meantime, if you haven't already, check out "Three Cups of Deceit", a full investigation into Mortenson's lies and misdeeds by Jon Krakauer. Access to the 89-page e-book will cost you $2.99, but it's totally worth it for such a stellar work of reporting.

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