The president of the Republic of Botswana will speak on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus on Tuesday, March 21.

His Excellency Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi accepted an invitation from Virginia Tech President Tim Sands to visit campus.

Virginia Tech faculty, staff, students, and members of the public are invited to attend Masisi’s presentation, “Merging Conservation, Democracy, and Sustainable Development in Botswana,” at 11 a.m. in the Commonwealth Ballroom on the second floor of Squires Student Center, 290 College Ave.

Masisi, who took office in 2018, became connected to Virginia Tech through the work of Professor Kathleen Alexander’s research program at the Centre for Conservation of African Resources: Animals, Communities, and Land Use (CARACAL), a nongovernmental organization in northern Botswana she co-founded in 2001.

Masisi’s visit to Virginia Tech is believed to be the first by an international head of state.

“Professor Kathy Alexander’s long history in conducting high quality research and educational initiatives in Botswana is an inspiring example of a strong global partnership and shared commitment to make the world a better place,” Sands said. “The people of Botswana are at the forefront of efforts to address the needs and challenges facing Africa and the rest of the world. We are proud to have Hokies working shoulder to shoulder with them and honored to welcome His Excellency, Dr. Masisi, to our Blacksburg campus.”

Botswana remains a global economic and conservation success story.

Mokgweetsi Masisi
Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi took office as president of Botswana in 2018.

With more than 40 percent of its land area dedicated to conservation and the largest elephant population in the world, Botswana remains a haven for wildlife. Under Masisi’s leadership, increased focus has been directed at economic empowerment of communities and strengthening of conservation and biodiversity stewardship across the nation.

Masisi has shown support for the on-the-ground integrated research and outreach conducted by Alexander, a professor of wildlife in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, and a commitment to assisting communities and ensuring that wildlife and ecosystems are managed sustainably.

In 2019, the president and first lady Neo Masisi toured CARACAL’s 42-acre site and met with Alexander and her research team to discuss the program’s focus on improving health outcomes and livelihoods of communities and sustainably managing the natural ecosystems on which they depend.

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