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JACKSON, Tenn. – March 15, 2001– Union University has announced that John Major, former prime minister of Great Britain, will be the keynote speaker for the university's Fifth Annual Scholarship Banquet, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the Carl Perkins Civic Center.
"We are delighted to bring this global statesman to West Tennessee," said Union President David S. Dockery. "As Margaret Thatcher's successor and President Bush's partner in the Gulf War, John Major has had a significant impact on Britain and the world during the past decade."
The youngest man this century to become Great Britain's prime minister, Major had humble beginnings as the son of a trapeze artist and failed garden gnome manufacturer, living in a two-room apartment in a racially mixed, working-class neighborhood of southern London. Working various jobs after quitting school at age 16, Major eventually found a stable occupation at Standard Chartered Bank in 1965 and rose rapidly to be the top aide to the chairman.
Entering local politics in 1968, Major ultimately secured a Conservative seat in 1979, the same year Margaret Thatcher became prime minister, and rapidly soared through the Conservative party leadership. In 1990, he succeeded Thatcher as prime minister, where he served for seven years, battling economic recession, violence in Northern Ireland and British partnership with the U.S. in the Persian Gulf War.
Major, who will speak on "The Changing World," is the fourth world leader to visit the university for this annual event. Previous speakers include Mikhail Gorbachev, Colin Powell and Margaret Thatcher. This will be Major's first visit to the state of Tennessee.
Lead sponsors for the event include BancorpSouth and Mr. and Mrs. Carl Kirkland. Premier sponsors currently include First Bank, Mr. and Mrs. Benny Fesmire, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Holmes, Union Planters Bank, and White Investments, L.L.C., Roy White, President & C.E.O.
The Scholarship Banquet is supported by Union's Board of Presidential Associates for the purpose of raising funds to provide scholarships. More than 80% of all Union students receive some type of financial assistance from the university.
Sara B. Horn,