Dr. Patrick Mendis
Educator, Diplomat, and Author

Patrick Mendis is an educator, diplomat, author, and executive in government service. He taught MBA and MPA as well as American foreign policy, global trade, and international affairs courses at the University of Minnesota, University of Maryland, and Yale University before joining the Department of State, where he served under Secretary Madeleine Albright and General Colin Powell. In 2012, Secretary Hillary Clinton appointed Professor Mendis as a commissioner to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

He is currently a distinguished senior fellow at the School of Public Policy (SPP) as well as an affiliate professor of public and international affairs (PIA) and an adjunct professor of geography and geoinformation science (GGS) at George Mason University.

A fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (in the St. Paul-Minneapolis Committee), Dr. Mendis previously worked at the Minnesota House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the World Bank, and the United Nations.

After serving in the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and State, Mendis returned to academia as vice president of the Osgood Center for International Studies and foreign policy visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Professor Mendis has authored more than 100 journal articles, government reports, newspaper columns, and several books including, most recently, Commercial Providence: The Secret Destiny of the American Empire (2010) and Trade for Peace (2009). Professor Stephen Trachtenberg, president emeritus of the George Washington University, and Professor Brian Atwood, former dean of the University of Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs, respectively wrote the forewords for these two highly acclaimed books.

While serving as a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea program, Dr. Mendis wrote The Human Side of Globalization (3rd edition 2009), an analysis of the interplay between American foreign policy and the indigenous cultures of the Caribbean, Latin American, African, and Asian countries. The late science-fiction writer and futurist Sir Arthur Clarke wrote the foreword to the book. 

Dr. Mendis is an alumnus of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). A Socrates fellow at the Aspen Institute, he also attended Oxford University’s Merton College as a 21st Century Trust fellow. Dr. Mendis is a first class honors graduate of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka. A former trustee of the Humphrey School Alumni Board, Dr. Mendis currently serves as a counselor on the HKS Alumni Council Board in Washington.

A former American Field Service (AFS) exchange scholar from Sri Lanka to Minnesota, Dr. Mendis earned his diploma from Perham High School. After working seven years as a lecturer in international relations and a visiting scholar in applied economics at the University of Minnesota, he served as a military professor through the University of Maryland for the U.S. Department of Defense in the NATO and the Pacific Commands. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses at every major military base in England, Italy, Germany, Japan, Spain, South Korea, and Turkey.

He also taught at the Leningrad State University in the former Soviet Union and the Northwestern University in Xi’an, China. He is currently a consulting professor of international affairs at the Guangdong University of Foreign Studies in Guangzhou. He has lived in and traveled to more than 100 countries as well as visited all 50 states in America. Professor Mendis is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.

Over the years, Mendis established a number of scholarships and awards in Sri Lanka and the United States including, most recently, the annual Edward Burdick Legislative Award at the University of Minnesota. He supports the kiva micro-lending programs in over 30 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

He has received numerous awards and honors for his leadership, public service, and philanthropic activities. These include the Hubert Humphrey Outstanding Leadership Award, the University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service, the University of Maryland’s Stanley Drazek Teaching Excellence Award, the United Nations Medal for the International Year of the Youth, the Harold Stassen Award for United Nations Affairs, the USDA Graduate School Outstanding Service Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. State Department’s Meritorious Honors Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award.

Professor Mendis and his Scandinavian wife live in the Washington, D.C., area but they consider Minnesota their home. Their son is a doctoral student in material science engineering at Purdue University; their daughter is an electrical engineering student at the University of Virginia.


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