CEU is deeply saddened by the passing of Donald M. Blinken, ambassador, investment banker, philanthropist, arts patron and generous benefactor to the University and its Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives (OSA). Ambassador Blinken served as Chancellor of the CEU Council from 1995-2001 and CEU Trustee from 2001-2008. He was Trustee Emeritus of the University at the time of his death on September 22 at the age of 96.
Beyond his service to the CEU community, Ambassador Blinken had a deep relationship with Hungary. He served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 1994-98. During that time, he guided Hungary's successful participation in the Bosnian peacekeeping process, helped restore and develop Hungarian civil society, and championed Hungary's membership in NATO and the European Union among many other notable achievements. Hungary's highest civilian honor was bestowed upon Ambassador Blinken for his distinguished service.
A World War II veteran, Blinken graduated from Harvard University Magna Cum Laude in Economics. He went on to a career in education, banking, and diplomacy. Blinken was appointed to the Board of the State University of New York in 1976. Under President Carter, he was selected for the Special Presidential Nomination Panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals and was Secretary-General of The World Federation of United Nations Associations from 2000 to 2004. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Advisory Board of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and the Executive Board of the Project on Ethnic Relations.
Ambassador Blinken and his wife Vera Blinken's relationship with CEU's Open Society Archives (OSA) dates to its very founding. To honor this connection and in recognition of their generous support for the Archives, OSA was re-named the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives in 2015. Ms. Blinken said of the dedication to the couple: "As two people deeply committed to Hungary and the region, as well as to providing access to education and important historical documents, it is both an honor and a privilege to be associated in this way with the vital institution that is CEU."
In mourning Ambassador Blinken, CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria said: "Yesterday, Hungary and CEU lost a dear friend and supporter, and the world lost an eminent man committed to peace, democracy, and diplomacy. His career and ideals stand more poignantly today than ever."
CEU is immensely grateful for the vital work and contributions Ambassador Blinken and his wife Vera Blinken made to Hungary and to the CEU community in particular. Our heartfelt condolences go to Vera, his son Antony, and to the entire Blinken family. We endeavor to carry on his legacy with honor.