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Fontbonne to Weigh Decision on Graduation Speaker After '60 Minutes' Segment Raises Questions

The Clayton university has invited 'Three Cups of Tea' author Greg Mortenson to speak at graduation this spring.

Officials at will discuss whether to move forward with plans to host author Greg Mortenson at graduation after a TV news segment earlier this week questioned his credibility.

No decision about Mortenson's speaking engagement had been made as of Tuesday morning, said Elizabeth Hise Brennan, senior communications and marketing coordinator at the Clayton university. The school will most likely make a decision sometime after Sunday regarding whether he will deliver the commencement speech, scheduled for May 21, she said.

Mortenson is author of Three Cups of Tea, a book that describes his efforts to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But on Sunday—three days after Fontbonne announced his speaking appointment in a news release—the CBS TV show 60 Minutes aired a segment in which interviewees called into question the truthfulness of some of Mortenson's accounts. It also questions the degree to which Mortenson's speaking engagements and book projects are benefiting students abroad.

A transcript of the segment may be viewed on the 60 Minutes website.

Mortenson co-founded the nonprofit group Central Asia Institute, whose mission is to "promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan," its website states. He also founded the organization Pennies for Peace, which encourages young people to contribute pennies to benefit young underprivileged students.

Mortenson is scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate of letters from Fontbonne as part of his speaking engagement.

Mary Hall-Ries April 19, 2011 at 03:58 PM
How has Mortenson replied to his detractors? Have the reporters accusing him of not doing enough, done anything themselves to help the world? Personally, I prefer any action over talk, and certainly over negativism. He has certainly done more to raise awareness of causes and situations than 99% of the population. Seriously, no good deed goes unpunished anymore. It really makes you want to run right out and help the world, just so that a bunch selfish idiots can criticize you doesn't it? Of course he should be "allowed" to speak. Mary Hall-Ries (munykids@aol.com)

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