Luis Alberto Monge: A Hero for Costa Rica and EARTH

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: September 20th, 2023

“A simple, humble, and very human man” is how many people describe Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez, President of Costa Rica from 1982 to 1986. He is most remembered for standing for peace during a tense period of unrest in Central America and the world. In April 2023, Monge was declared “Benemérito de la Patria” (a national hero) in recognition of his commitment to ensuring Costa Rica remained a neutral country amid complex wars in neighboring nations. In addition, during his administration Monge promoted agriculture, education, reduction of public spending, and construction of road infrastructure.

Thanks to his desire to seek peace despite the war crisis, don Luis Alberto was one of the driving forces behind the allocation of resources that enabled the creation of our University through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. When EARTH opened its doors, the former president unconditionally supported the University’s mission until his death in 2016. For years, he was part of our Board of Directors, and as Director Emeritus he contributed his extraordinary vision to the University’s endeavors.

On August 31, our Guácimo Campus was a venue for one of the five celebrations held to commemorate Luis Alberto’s well-deserved honor. Attending the event were José Zaglul, President Emeritus of EARTH, Carlos Rivera, Director of the Center for Democratic Studies of Latin America (CEDAL), Dr. Franklin Chang-Díaz, member of the Board of Directors, Francisco Morales, former Minister of Agriculture, EARTH graduate José Efraín Deras (’98, Honduras), and Guido Alberto Monge, son of the former president, along with his wife.

“With his wisdom, Luis Alberto Monge left us a living legacy in our students and graduates. I can say that EARTH University is one of his seeds – the seed of an educational model that is still unique and necessary to transform the world if we want our trajectory as humanity to change. His presence is always constant at EARTH, and today, I dare to affirm that he is here, his presence is here, his ashes are here, but it is much more than that. By shaping this institution, he shaped all of us who work here and are part of it,” reflected EARTH’S President Arturo Condo during the event.

Guido Alberto Monge, one of Luis Alberto’s sons, shared an emotional message about his father’s relationship with EARTH University, how he cherished it, and his strong belief in its mission. “All the political, intellectual, and spiritual maturity, and his vocation of service, I know that my dad thought until the last day of his life that this was here at EARTH. This was his masterpiece, because it synthesized everything that was his life as a builder of democracy,” said Guido Monge. Because of his great affection for EARTH, Luis Alberto’s ashes are kept in our Guácimo Campus, and his memory is constantly honored in our daily lives.

“When they called me to be the President of EARTH, Luis Alberto and the others told me that they wanted an institution that breaks traditions, breaks barriers, and forms future leaders as ethical, honest leaders who care about each other and who learn not only in the classroom but also in real life, applying science and technology. This University was born to be that change. Luis Alberto Monge defended it even though the country was divided, and many doubted its creation. The most important thing here is the human formation of people who believe and dream of changing the world,” shared José Zaglul in his speech.

We embrace with great gratitude the footprints and legacy that Luis Alberto Monge left in our University and our lives.