Mortenson is author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools.” He was selected for the award based on his efforts to build schools and educate children, especially girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In declining the award, Mortenson called it “a great honor” to be selected for the prestigious award but said there are many other deserving individuals.
“I wish to humbly decline the Grawemeyer Award as a way to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of all those who have gone before us and those who continue to promote peace through education,” Mortenson said.
Mortenson had been scheduled to come to Louisville Sept. 23 to speak and accept the award. But in conversations with UofL Provost Shirley Willihnganz, he indicated that he no longer wished to accept it.
“We, like millions of others, have been inspired by Greg’s work and we share his commitment to education and to his belief that we can provide a more peaceful future for all our children through knowledge and friendship,” Willihnganz said.
While UofL will not give the 2011 Grawemeyer Award in Education, Willihnganz said the university will provide $50,000 in privately funded scholarships (unrelated to the Grawemeyer endowment) to students who decide to major in education and agree to teach in Louisville’s poorest schools.
UofL presents $100,000 Grawemeyer Awards each year for outstanding ideas in music composition, improving world order, psychology, education and religion (a joint award with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary)
The university will announce recipients of the 2012 awards toward the end of this year.