William Speer Kuhn III (Bologna '82, Washington '83) died of hypothermia on May 21, 1995 at the age of 39 while he and a friend were hiking in the mountains near Almaty, in Kazakhstan. Bill had always been adventurous. Perhaps it was because he had been raised in a Foreign Service family and had become a citizen of the world. He received half of his education in France, half in America, and spent his school years in Italy and Switzerland.
After SAIS, Bill began his career by working as an escort interpreter in French at the State Department, then served as a Foreign Service Officer in Madagascar, Chile and Washington D.C. and as an election observer in Africa. He then left State for the excitement of the "Wild West"; he was team leader with CARE's humanitarian assistance program in Armenia, Georgia and Russia and worked with Deloitte & Touche as a team leader of USAID's privatization program in Almaty and Akmola, Kazakhstan.
Bill's professors, friends and family members remember him as an independent character with a strong mind of his own: a man well ahead of his time. Following his premature death, his family decided to set up the William Speer Kuhn III Summer Internship Fund at SAIS. The Fund was established to continue his commitment to understanding Central Asia and supports a SAIS student internship or study trip in the 15 countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU). Ideally, the selected student should have little/no direct prior experience in the country of destination, and the funds should be used for him/her to gain exposure to and understanding of Central Asia and other countries of the FSU.
Since its inception, the William Speer Kuhn III Summer Internship Fund has reached a remarkable value of $90,000 and twenty-seven students have benefitted from the fund to follow their passions via summer internships. View list of fellows with their current professional affiliation and awarded internship
As we approach the 20th anniversary of Bill's passing his family and friends are launching an initiative to bring the value of the Fund to $150,000 by the end of 2015:
"The average amount generated by the fund per year is about $4,000, which SAIS allocates to students. This barely covers the cost of a return plane ticket, let alone bare bones living costs for a summer. The new fundraising drive - which has already brought $9,170 to the fund - would almost double the current expendable payout. We are therefore appealing to you to raise the additional $50,000 which will help us to reach our goal in honor of Bill and to continue his legacy. Donations of any size will be greatly appreciated as well as commitments payable over a number of years."
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For assistance and/or more information, please contact the SAIS Europe development team