In 1997 Delta Air Lines and the University of Georgia created a new international prize that recognizes efforts to advance understanding and cooperation among cultures and nations. The Delta Air Lines Foundation gave the University of Georgia an $890,000 grant to establish the Delta Prize program. UGA administers the program, which provides a $10,000 cash prize and an original work of art to the award winner. Delta Air Lines also provides a $50,000 travel allowance to the non-profit organization of the recipients choice.
The Delta Prize for Global Understanding is presented annually to individuals whose initiatives have helped promote world peace. The inaugural award was presented to former President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter and the Atlanta-based Carter Center in 1999.
“As a global airline, Delta knows intercultural understanding is essential to the success of our communities and businesses,” said Maurice Worth, Delta Air Lines’ chief operating officer (1997-1999) in announcing the establishment of the Delta Prize program. “That’s why we’ve chosen to contribute nearly $1 million, the largest contribution in the history of the Delta Air Lines Foundation, to foster the exchange of ideas among cultures throughout the world.”
The proposal for the award program was developed by Gary Bertsch, director of UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security, and Betty Jean Craige, director of UGA’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. The two units are deeply involved in exploring international economic, political and cultural issues through research, educational programs and publications.
Bertsch said the prize is given for “globally significant efforts that provide opportunities for greater understanding among nations and cultures.” Those efforts include grassroots projects that diminish hostilities in a particular part of the world, international programs that promote communication or trade among different peoples, and leadership that inspires global cooperation and peace.
UGA President Michael Adams said he hopes the Delta Prize will grow in stature to become an international symbol of partnership and good will among nations. “Our world is a global society in which all nations are interdependent and all people are interconnected,” said Adams. “The University of Georgia is committed to using its resources, and the knowledge and talents of its faculty and staff, to make the world a better place to live. It is appropriate that our state university and one of our state’s leading corporate citizens join forces to advance this goal of international peace and progress.”
Craige noted that UGA students assist in the process of soliciting nominations. They research nominees and prepare materials for the selection board that chooses the winner. “Participating in this program is a rewarding educational opportunity for the students,” said Craige. “It gives them insights into contemporary international matters, and helps them identify role models for the global society in which they will live.”