Media Contacts

Office of Media Relations
2121 Eye St., NW
Rice Hall 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20052

Phone: 202-994-6460
Fax: 202-994-9025
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Business Leader and Philanthropist Carlos Slim Awarded GW President's Medal

June 30, 2009


WASHINGTON—Business leader and humanitarian Carlos Slim today received the President's Medal from The George Washington University in recognition of his significant contributions to business and community development in Mexico and Latin America and his extensive philanthropic work through his foundations to improve and invest in education, health, sports focused in social support and development, justice, employment as well as the fine arts. GW President Steven Knapp presented the honor during a ceremony held today at the GW Elliott School of International Affairs. Watch

"Carlos Slim has channeled his remarkable success in business into a passionate commitment to improve the lives and futures of others. The George Washington University President's Medal has been given in the past to successful business leaders, noted philanthropists and dedicated humanitarians. Today, we award the President's Medal to a man who fulfills all of those roles and more," said President Knapp.

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Mr. Slim was born in Mexico in 1940. From a young age, his parents instilled in him a strong sense of the importance of education, particularly in finance. He studied civil engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 1965, he started to set the basis for Grupo Carso when he was only 25 years old and little by little, he built one of the most important financial-industrial-commercial groups in Mexico.

In the 1980s, Mr. Slim and his Grupo Carso made diverse investments and acquisitions in a wide variety of businesses, including Sanborns and Nacobre. In 1990, the group acquired telecommunications conglomerate Telmex in partnership with SBC and France Telecom, and began a new era of entrepreneurial development in telecommunications. The group also owns America Movil, Latin America's largest mobile phone company, and Telmex International. Mr. Slim has also served as vice chairman of the Mexican Stock Exchange and chairman of the Mexican Association of Brokerage Firms. He was the first chairman of the Latin American Committee of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange.

Mr. Slim's extensive philanthropic work includes foundations that focus on improving education, health care, justice, employment and the fine arts in Mexico and Latin America. Since 1995, Mr. Slim has been President of the TELMEX Foundation, A.C., one of the largest philanthropic institutions in Latin America, and since 1990 has also been a Board Member of the UNAM Foundation. He recently established the Carso Institute for Health, a nonprofit organization that funds social welfare projects in health, nutrition and the environment. In addition, Mr. Slim has personally supported more than 203,000 students so they could attend college, covered medical expenses for those in need and provided equipment for rural schools. He also leads an initiative to revitalize historic downtown Mexico City.

His many awards and recognitions include an honor medal from the Commerce Chamber of Mexico, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement and the Decoration of the Commander Leopold II from the Belgian Government. He also was named the Industrialist of the Decade by Latin Trade in 2004 and Industrialist of Year 2007 by the Mexican Foundation for Health (Funsalud).

He was recognized by the Mexican Association of Professionals in Power of Attorney, Bottoms Chapter, Mexico City, in 2007 as the Mexican industrialist who has destined more resources in life to philanthropic causes, and the Embassy of Lebanon in Mexico awarded him the National Order of the Cedar in Grade of Grand Officer in November 2008. Mr. Slim also received the ESADE Award from ESADE Alumni Barcelona in June 2009 for his entrepreneurial accomplishments and social commitment.

Established in 1988, The George Washington University President's Medal is bestowed by the president of the University to recognize individuals who have exhibited courage, character and leadership in their chosen fields and who exemplify the ability of all human beings to improve the lives of others. Past recipients include Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Mikhail Gorbachev, Walter Cronkite, Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate Shimon Peres, United States Senators William Frist and Joseph Lieberman, NASA astronaut Charles J. Camarda (M.S. '80), Tony- and Emmy-award winning actor Hal Holbrook and jazz legend David Brubeck.

Transcript of Carlos Slim's speech:

President Knapp, Ambassador Sarukhan, dear friends. It really is a little complicated. I wrote some notes, I changed the notes. This is more than a professional examination that is happening now to me. I will try to share some ideas but not take so long. I made some notes, but like I told you, I changed them.

First, I am very pleased and honored to receive this award, the President's Medal. Thank you very much, President Knapp. It really is an honor to have this distinction from this great and recognized university. The George Washington University is important for its high academics, but also its location is important for the influence you can have on the heart of the United States and, at many times, the heart of the world.

I should say now that we are living a very special economic crisis. First of all, it is important to know that this is not a time of change. This is a change of times. We are living a change of times because we are a new civilization with new paradigms. This new civilization with new paradigms is a society of technology, of knowledge, of information, the digital field too. But this may be a society of services. This is a society where democratic freedom, liberty, diversity, morality, competition, globalization, productivity, innovation, technology are the new paradigms. Living this tough crisis, I think it is so important that U.S. gets very strong and healthy for the whole of the world. The decisions that this country will take are so important for everyone. I think it's very important in this moment to know where to go for the future and what to do today. Being in a new society, we are in different times. It is very important that our governments work in two main areas.

First of all, living this crisis—to minimize the social ethics of the times. Minimize to make it less aggressive. And we know that we can't grow without labor, without employment. But also we can't have employment without growth. I think this will be one of those times. Employment without growth to minimize the social ethics of the crisis, to make efforts in this way. But also, there should also be a big transformation in many areas and work in these two directions. First, work in the crisis and, at the same time, work to make the transformation to arrive to this new society. The views that should change, I think should be in health and retirement services, in energy, in the environment, and in other changes that should be done with a long-term vision but also a global vision to make these changes in the best way to be at the end of this depression taking into account the new paradigms.

If you think a little, you will see that in the agrarian society, people begin to work at 6-8 years without any education. In the industrial society, people begin to work at 16-18 years in the factories with only basic education. Today, most of the people in this society of knowledge will begin to work at 25, 26 with at least college studies, university studies, and many of them every time with more post-graduates studies. That means that people need to work more time. You begin work at 16 years, you will retire at 60. But when you begin to work at 25, you will not retire at 50 or 55. The research in genomics, the research in health will be very important to the health services of cancer, kidney, heart diseases to make feasible universal health services for all the population.

I think this transformation of this sector including the industrial sector that should be changed. We are looking now at how it is changing from industries like the auto industry in the United States and changes worldwide. We look at how these changes should be done to make it feasible and make them easy to work. With these changes, and with the long view, the global view, I think it is very important to not make big mistakes. We need a healthy U.S. worldwide and a strong country because that would be good for everyone. But also the mistakes are a problem for everybody. That's why it is very important that things will be managed in a good way. We are a little worried all around because we feel that the solutions are looking for big fiscal deficits that should be paid in the future. That can't prep for inflation, for the federation of the currency. I think many of the issues that aren't working to avoid this crisis to make it minimized and to get out of them are taking too much time and maybe too much deficit and many of them can be without a deficit. Let's say a financial institution is the last financial institution. By the way of capitalizing them at the end of 4 years or 5 years, we will not be a fiscal deficit. We will be a fiscal super rapid because the banks will move, and we'll do a lot better.

The positions of institutions like this is very important because we need to normalize credit and credit is the change, the point that links the national economy with the real economy. We will be worried about the world economy. That's why we need to normalize, establish a system for the normalization of credit. What should be done I think is to work strongly, and a university with this high level of education are very important to make research, to make proposed solutions to the government and to the technocratic and technical people to find positions to get out of the fiscal deficit that can be used in the future.

At the end of the day, what our countries need is a last target, the most important target—the welfare of society that needs good health and better education. And that's human capital. Human capital is one of the bigger compromises and targets from all societies for the future and the new society that we are living in this change in times. But for the formation and creation of human capital in all our countries should be one of the big objectives, and the idea of having better human capital will be very important for the welfare of the society. Together, with the possibility of creating jobs and to fight margination, poverty and people living in opposition. The only way to fight them is by way of human capital with health and education, but also with jobs. Because I think this should be the challenge for everyone, mainly for your country but also the challenge of universities to work in these kinds of problems to make the right propositions to find the right solutions.

I can only say again, thank you very much to The George Washington University, to President Knapp and to all of you for being here. Thank you very much.

-GW-

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Michelle Sherrard - 202-994-1423 - [email protected]

 

-GW-

Stay Connected

By RSS
Subscribe to GW’s RSS feed to receive updates and notifications about University news and events.

By E-mail
Subscribe to George Washington Today for up-to-date information on the University.