Ex-professor to speak Friday | SteamboatToday.com
Tamera Manzanares

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Ex-professor to speak Friday

Sutherland will talk about hostage experience in Lebanon

Inspired by the many Colorado State University graduates in Northwest Colorado, residents want to resurrect a long-defunct local alumni club.

They are initiating their effort with a visit from Tom Sutherland, a former CSU professor who spent six years as a hostage in Lebanon.

Sutherland will speak about his experience and current world issues at 6 p.m. Friday at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

“From my perspective, it’s important to be educated about the issues of the world, and we have, from his own misfortunes, one of the most informed people about these issues,” said C.J. Mucklow, a former student of Sutherland’s.

More than 600 CSU graduates live in Routt and Moffat counties.

Lee Anderson, who is helping spearhead the local club, said alumni wanted a guest speaker who would appeal to the diverse educational backgrounds of CSU graduates and other residents in the community.

“CSU has become so much more diverse as an agricultural college,” he said. “We tried to find someone that would be interesting to everyone.”

Sutherland, a native of Scotland, joined the CSU Department of Agricultural Sciences in 1953. In 1983, he became dean of agriculture at American University of Beirut.

Two years later, Islamic Jihad gunmen kidnapped Sutherland from a Beirut highway. They held him and other American and European hostages in filthy, cramped conditions until 1991, when he finally was released.

He returned to a warm welcome in Fort Collins, where he still lives with his wife, Jean. Together, they co-wrote the book, “At Your Own Risk,” which details their experience in Lebanon before, during and after the hostage years.

In the past, Sutherland has spoke about Westerners’ failure to understand some of the cultural issues driving violence in the Muslim world.

“He’s a great speaker and adds a perfect perspective to what’s going on now,” Mucklow said.

The event also will help Anderson and other alumni gauge residents’ interest in jump-starting the local alumni club. The first club, initiated in 1936 as the third alumni charter in Colorado, petered out in the mid-1980s.

The new club would serve as a platform for more speakers and events and also would provide a social outlet for alumni, he said.

“The idea is just basically an opportunity to get together,” Anderson said.

All residents are invited to Sutherland’s talk. Appetizers and refreshments will be available. The cost is $5.

RSVP by Tuesday by calling (800) 286-2586.