Rhodes Trustee Cary Fowler to Receive Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership

head and shoulder shot of a college board member

Cary Fowler, chair of Rhodes College’s Board of Trustees, has been named the 2018 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Citizen Leadership. The award recognizes achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard. 

“We are extremely proud of our Chairman of the Rhodes Board of Trustees, Dr. Cary Fowler ’71.  His extraordinary leadership in ensuring the world’s future food supply as well as his intellect and compassion inspire the best in all of us,” says Rhodes College President Marjorie Hass.

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, will be presented on Jefferson’s birthday, April 13. In addition, Fowler will be the keynote speaker at the celebration and will give a public talk at UVA.