UC Fund Honors Ambassador Christopher Stevens on Anniversary of His Death

The family of the late Chris Stevens, a 1978 graduate of Piedmont High, welcomes contributions to the memorial fund for scholarships in Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley.

Ambasador J. Christopher Stevens. Photo courtesy Stevens' family.
Ambasador J. Christopher Stevens. Photo courtesy Stevens' family.

Editor's note: The following information was supplied by Mary (Stevens) Commanday, mother of the late Ambassador H. Christopher Stevens, who was killed Sept. 11, 2012, in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

Stevens grew up in Piedmont, where family members still live, and graduated from Piedmont High School in 1978. PHS classmates Austin Tichenor and Paul Feist shared memories of their friendship in this 2012 article: "Ambassador Chris Stevens 'A Very Smart, Very Funny Guy,' Says Cal Roommate."

The Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Memorial Fund for Middle Eastern Studies

One year after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, took the lives of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the late diplomat’s family and friends are resolved to see his work continue with future generations of students from his alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley.

The University of California, Berkeley Center for Middle Eastern Studies (www.cmes.berkeley.edu) has announced the establishment of an endowed fund to support research and travel to the Middle East and North Africa for students demonstrating a high level of distinction and pursuing a degree in, or related to, Middle Eastern Studies.

The gift is from family and friends made possible through a distribution from the J. Christopher Stevens Fund, a project of New Venture Fund based in Washington, D.C.

“As UC Berkeley graduates, and on behalf of our daughter, Anne, and our son, Tom, (U.C. Davis graduates),  we are pleased to honor Chris’s life and career in helping to create understanding and cooperation between the people of the United States and those of the Middle East and North Africa,” said his parents — Jan Stevens and Mary (Stevens) Commanday.

“Establishing this fund in the renowned Center for Middle Eastern Studies will encourage graduates of this department to follow Chris’s lead in learning about and undertaking work in this increasingly vital center of the world’s attention.”

Stevens received a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Berkeley in 1982. He immediately joined the Peace Corps, which took him to Morocco. This experience sparked an abiding interest in the Middle East, leading eventually to his successful career in the U.S. Foreign Service, and postings in many Middle Eastern countries.

“This wonderful gift from the family and friends of Ambassador Chris Stevens honors an extraordinary alumnus who embodied Berkeley’s commitment to public service,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

“Ambassador Stevens dedicated his life to promoting peace  and understanding of the Middle East. There could be no better way to honor his legacy than enabling future generations of students to follow in his footsteps.”

“The Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Memorial Fund for Middle Eastern Studies is a major contribution to undergraduate and graduate students on this campus who study the Middle East and North Africa,” said Nezar AlSayyad, chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

“It serves not only as a memory of a great diplomat but also as an incentive for a new generation to be inspired by his example.”

Further contributions to this fund to increase the amount of the yearly scholarship award and the number of recipients are highly encouraged!

To contribute on-line, the link is: http://givetocal.berkeley.edu/stevens-middle-eastern-studies.

To donate by check, make payable to: The University of California, Berkeley Foundation, and send to:  University of California, Berkeley, Office of Gift Planning, University Relations 2080 Addison St, Berkeley, CA  94720, Attn:  Rebecca De Kalb.  Please include a note with the check directing that the gift be added to The Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Memorial Fund for Middle Eastern Studies, and include the name of the fund on the check memo.

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