Mount Mercy announces Commencement speaker

Mount Mercy has announced today that Terry Waite, humanitarian, hostage negotiator, and author of Taken on Trust, will serve as the institution’s Commencement speaker during the graduation ceremony May 23 at 1:00 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. The title of Waite’s address to graduates is, “The Power of the Human Spirit: Turning Misfortune into Positive Action.”


Waite garnered international recognition in the 1980s when, as a special envoy to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he successfully negotiated the release of hostages in Iran and then Libya. A world-renowned agent of peace, he is a testament to the power and resilience of the human spirit.

In his capacity as Advisor to the Archbishop, Waite again traveled extensively throughout the world and had a responsibility for the Archbishop's diplomatic and ecclesiastical exchanges. In 1987, while negotiating the release of hostages in Beirut, Waite was himself taken hostage and held in captivity for 1,763 days (four years of which were in solitary confinement).

Since September 11, he is often called upon by CNN, the BBC and other news media to share his views on the best way to negotiate with hostage-takers in Iraq and elsewhere. He is the founder of Hostage UK, which advises families and companies about the global risks of hostage taking.

“Mount Mercy is proud to welcome Terry Waite in May as we celebrate Commencement,” says Mount Mercy President Christopher Blake. “His role as an envoy of peace and mercy, as well as his strongly and deeply held humanitarian beliefs is a perfect example of the Sisters of Mercy and the corporeal acts of Mercy that our institution is founded on. His speech will serve as an inspiring reminder of how the mission of Mount Mercy can continue to impact the lives of our graduates.”

Waite will not only serve as Commencement speaker, but will also have opportunities to interact with students, parents, and alumni, as well as participate in numerous campus activities. 

With a broad perspective of world affairs and a deep understanding of diverse cultures, Waite now devotes most of his time to intercultural relations, conflict resolution and humanitarian causes around the world. He is the founder and president of Y Care International and the U.K. Ambassador for the Freeplay Foundation.

Waite’s first book Taken on Trust, quickly became an international bestseller. His second book, Footfalls in Memory, is a collection of selections from books, poems and prayers, which Waite had read throughout his life and then remembered during his solitary confinement in Beirut. Published in 1995, it, too, became a bestseller.

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