Genius academy will succeed in Selma

Published 9:06 pm Friday, July 1, 2016

Dear Editor,

All of us associated with the Global Academy for International Advancement, also known as The Genius Discovery Academy, appreciated your front-page story about the Academy on June 24.

May I correct an impression that your more careful readers might have gleaned from that report, that is, that the Academy has failed in Fiji, Albania, Korea, Liberia and Arkansas?

On Dec. 4, 1992, Bill Clinton, then governor of Arkansas and President-elect, personally signed a letter inviting me to establish the Global Academy in Arkansas. I was in Korea at the time.  By the time I could accept Mr. Clinton’s invitation in April to meet with three specific Arkansas leaders, he had gone to Washington, taking with him many of Arkansas’ most open-minded thinkers.  A major paper company offered the Academy 1,000 acres of land in Howard County, where I was born, but the leaders of that county vetoed the idea of the Academy for reasons never explained.  This was not a failure of the Academy; this was a failure of vision by the leaders of one county.

On one September Monday morning in 1996, the first woman to head an African nation since Cleopatra, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, sat with one of her ministers and I and instructed that minister to invite all of her ministers to be briefed on the academy. Only four ministers showed up for that Wednesday meeting, all of whom were late and responded negatively to the concept that Liberia should host a world-class academy.  That negative pressure from spiritually blind ministers caused the Academy to disappear from the president’s agenda.

In June 2009, The Albanian Olympic Committee writing on behalf of the Albanian Government invited me to establish the Academy in that nation, the only sizable nation in Europe not to have won an Olympic medal.  By the time I could settle my affairs in Arizona and get to Albania in November 11, the president of the Olympic Committee and the Ministers of Education and Sports had been replaced and I was perceived as a persona non grata, a friend of the “political enemies.”  The Academy did not fail in Albania, the political leadership failed to perceive how the Academy could help that nation win its first Olympic medal and Nobel prize, and help ignite the failing economy of that nation.

In Fiji in November 1992, two ministers of that government and the Director of Tourism invited me to a spectacular lunch on a boat in Suva Harbor in one of the most beautiful nations on earth.  “Professor Maxwell,” they said, “we just returned from Barcelona where we spent over $750,000 to support 60 athletes.  We returned home without a single medal.  Why don’t you establish your Academy here in Fiji?”  A few weeks later there was a coup that plunged Fiji into economic depression and caused that nation to be boycotted by many leaders of the British Commonwealth.  And so on.

The Academy was conceived at Harvard University under the inspiration of one of that university’s greatest professors, Dr. Anne Roe.  The core idea was that all of God’s children have talents and parents’ and educators’ first duties are to seek those talents so the child is motivated to develop those genius talents.  Unlike in Liberia, Arkansas, Fiji, Albania and elsewhere, the Academy was warmly welcomed to Selma by this city’s leadership, the political, the educational, the religious and the business leadership.

Here the Academy will succeed. Here in Selma the Academy will find future Nobel prize winners in the sciences, future Fields Medal winners in mathematics, future Olympic champions and success stories in every field.

 

William Maxwell

Genius Discovery Academy