UCA this Saturday will present its Distinguished Alumnus Award to Dr. Steven Sanderson, president and chief executive officer of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The award will be presented during the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony.Prior to his appointment in 2001, Sanderson was dean of Emory College, Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Emory University in Atlanta.
Sanderson is the 23rd individual in UCA’s history to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award, joining the ranks of best-selling author Dee Brown, five-time NBA All-Star Scottie Pippen, J.B. Hunt Transport Co-Founder Johnelle Hunt and U.S. Department of Education Deputy Secretary Ray Simon.
The UCA Distinguished Alumnus Award is the most prestigious award presented to an alumnus of UCA. According to the award criteria, “A Distinguished Alumnus for the University of Central Arkansas is recognized for outstanding contribution to the university, community, state or society; outstanding achievement in a particular field of endeavor; possessing a reputation that enhances the reputation of the university and serves as an example to UCA students; and contributing to the goals or the welfare of the university.”
Sanderson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCA in 1971, and he earned a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University in 1978. Over the last 30 years, he has studied the politics of rural poverty, biodiversity conservation and environmental change and has become a specialist in Latin America.
As a member of the faculty of the University of Florida from 1979 to 1997, he directed the Tropical Conservation and Development Program and chaired the Department of Political Sciences.
A former Fulbright Scholar in Mexico (1976-77), Sanderson later held a Rockefeller Foundation International Relations Fellowship in Mexico and a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, D.C. From 1985 to 1987, he served as Ford Foundation Program Officer in Brazil, where he designed and implemented the Foundation’s Amazon conservation and rural poverty program.
Sanderson has also held fellowships and grants from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution, NASA, and the Ford, MacArthur, Tinker and Heinz Foundations.
For the last 20 years, he has been deeply involved with the organization of scientific cooperation on the environment, through the Social Science Research Council Committee for Research on Global Environmental Change, the International Geosphere-Biosphere program, and the National Academy of Sciences Oversight Committee on Restoration of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem.
Among Sanderson’s scholarly publications are several books and monographs about Latin American politics, trade and the environment, including Agrarian Populism and the Mexican State (California 1981), The Transformation of Mexican Agriculture (Princeton 1986), and The Politics of Trade In Latin American Development (Stanford 1992). He has also written about the politics of conserving wild exploited species and is co-editor of Parks in Peril: Working with Politics and People to Save Neotropical Biodiversity (Island Press, 1998).
Since leaving academia in 2001, he has continued to write about conservation and society and is a frequent lecturer on wildlife conservation, and the impact of global climate change on the future of the wild. Among his recent publications are