Celebrated U.S. figure skater Michelle Kwan to be honored as Chubb Fellow

Michelle Kwan
Michelle Kwan

Michelle Kwan, the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, will visit the campus on Wednesday, April 3 under the auspices of the Chubb Fellowship at Timothy Dwight College.

Kwan will give the Spring 2019 Chubb Fellowship Lecture at 4:30 p.m. in Levinson Auditorium of the Law School, 127 Wall St. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be livestreamed on Yale’s YouTube channel.

Born and raised in California, Kwan dominated the sport of figure skating from 1995 to 2005 when she won an unprecedented 43 championships— including five World Championships, eight consecutive and nine overall U.S. National Championships, and two Olympic medals. In the nearly 100-year history of U.S. figure skating, no American man or woman has won more world titles, national titles, or Olympic medals.

Kwan has been widely recognized for her athletic accomplishments and sportsmanship, including being named the 2003 U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Woman of the Year. She received the Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in America in 2001; earned the 1998 Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation; was the 2002 and 2003 Kids’ Choice Award; and won the 2002 Teen Choice Award as America’s favorite female athlete. Also in 2003, Kwan earned her seventh U.S. Figure Skating Skater of the Year Award and remains the only skater to have won the award more than once. U.S. Figure Skating renamed the award in her honor. It is now called the Michelle Kwan Trophy.

Off the ice, Kwan has demonstrated the important role athletes can play in the world of public diplomacy, furthering opportunities for international cultural dialogue and exchange. In 2006, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice named Kwan America’s first Public Diplomacy Envoy and senior adviser at the U.S. Department of State, working with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Kwan traveled the world meeting with young people to speak about leadership and to engage them in dialogue on social and educational issues. She continued that position under President Barack Obama and was also appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. In 2010, Kwan was elected to the board of directors of Special Olympics International, the organization’s governing authority responsible for global affairs and strategies. In 2011, Kwan was named adviser to the U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue. Since then she has been involved in a variety of public service and political campaigns.

To further her work in the area of diplomacy, Kwan graduated from the University of Denver in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in international studies. In 2011, she received a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, majoring in international relations.

In 2012, Kwan was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame — the highest honor in U.S. figure skating — and was also elected to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. That same year, she was selected by ESPN as one of the 40 greatest female athletes of the past 40 years.

Kwan has received honorary degrees from Salve Regina University, Smith College, and Southern Vermont College.

The Chubb Fellowship was founded with a gift from Yale alumnus Hendon Chubb, and since 1949 has been one of Yale’s most prestigious honors conferred on visiting speakers. The Timothy Dwight College Head of College, currently Mary Lui, administers the fellowship, which is devoted to encouraging interest in public service. Chubb Fellows spend their time at Yale in close, informal contact with students and make an appearance open to the public. Former Chubb Fellows include Presidents Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush; authors Wendell Berry and Toni Morrison; actor Shah Rukh Khan; world leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; journalist Nicholas Kristoff; and many other nationally and internationally prominent citizens and leaders.

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Media Contact

Bess Connolly: elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu, 203-432-1324