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Robert G. Houdek

Class of 1961

Awarded in 2001

Robert G. Houdek, class of 1961, has devoted his life to international public service and education.  With a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, he joined the United States Foreign Service in 1962.  He served in numerous posts, most of them in or related to Africa, over the past four decades.  From Eritrea, Kenya and Uganda, to the White House and the Department of State, he has won the confidence and appreciation of his colleagues and the leaders of government here and abroad. 

A former assistant to Henry Kissinger in the White House, Ambassador Houdek was awarded a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs at Princeton and then returned immediately to the front lines of diplomacy as chief of mission in Sierra Leone.  In the late 1980’s, he was named chief of mission in Ethiopia and was awarded one of the highest honors in the Foreign Service: the President’s Exceptional Service Medal, for his role in evacuating Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the last days of the Ethiopian civil war.  Today he serves the State Department as National Intelligence Officer for Africa.  His knowledge and understanding of the African continent and its diverse population have made him an important figure in designing American foreign policy relating to those nations.

He has been a generous supporter of Beloit College’s international commitment and a regular visitor to this campus. We are proud of the role that he has played in opening doors to Africa and we are honored to present Robert G. Houdek with the Alumni Association’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Citation.