Distinguished Alumni Award

Sarah Dunkerton Lande 60BA, 83MBA

2015 Service Award

Sarah Dunkerton Lande, 60BA, 83MBA, is widely admired as a citizen diplomat who has advanced Iowa's reputation around the globe—particularly in the People's Republic of China.

Lande's promotion of people-to-people diplomacy began after graduation with her first trip to China in 1984 with former Iowa Governor Bob Ray's Friendship Force, and later with three other Iowa governors to create new opportunities and understanding. From 1988 to 1998, she served as the first executive director for Iowa Sister States, a nonprofit that builds Iowa's cultural, economic, and educational partnerships with the world. Through the program, Iowa has fostered connections with nine Sister States, including China's Hebei Province.

It was through the Sister States program that Lande invited a Chinese delegation to visit her hometown of Muscatine, Iowa, in 1985. Iowa hospitality left such a lasting impression on visitor Xi Jinping that he returned in 2012— just before assuming the presidency of China. Hosted again by Lande, the man who now leads the most populous nation said to the old friends he had met in 1985 who were gathered in Lande's home in Muscatine, "My impression of America came from you. To me, you are America."

"We have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth and the well-being of its people. A world of friends is a world of peace."

Xi and his delegation also signed many trade, agriculture, tourism, and education agreements during their visit to the state. "Such an important diplomatic trip by the man who leads China would not have been possible except through the commitment and dedication of Sarah to Iowa and our international ties," notes Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, 69BA.

On a global level, Lande has been recognized for her public service. In 2013, she was awarded the title of Honorary Friendship Ambassador by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Last year, she was the organization's guest for its 60th anniversary in Beijing to share the Iowa-Xi Jinping story at the "Gathering of 60 Years Celebration" on China Central Television. Lande also spoke about the value of friendship at the International Sister City Celebration in Washington, DC.

Former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke has praised Lande for her international outreach, and organizations worldwide have sought her counsel. Adds former Iowa legislator Jean Lloyd-Jones, 71MA, "[Lande's] infectious smile, upbeat energy, and genuine interest in people make her a true citizen diplomat."

Locally, Lande has also proven a goodwill ambassador. In 2013, she helped form the Mayor's Muscatine China Initiative Committee that initiated a sister city relationship between Muscatine and Zhending, China, which has led to educational, commercial, and cultural exchanges. She also supports the International Writers Workshop, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, University of Iowa International Programs, Hancher, UNESCO City of Literature, and causes related to community building and environmental conservation.

"I think of myself as a citizen of the world," says Lande, who graduated with her bachelor of arts in home economics and a master of business administration. "We have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth and the well-being of its people. A world of friends is a world of peace."

With her passion for cultivating international friendships, Sarah Dunkerton Lande has left an impression that can be felt around the globe.

Lande is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club and the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.

  • Friends of Iowa Public Broadcasting
  • Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
  • River Action
  • Rotary Club of Muscatine
  • Governor’s Volunteer Award, 1988
  • Governor’s Certificate of Recognition for Distinguished Service to the State of Iowa, 1989
  • Athena Award, 2013

About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.

Related Content

The Iowa Writers? Workshop legend opens up about his time studying under Kurt Vonnegut, his friendship with Dan Gable, and his long-awaited new novel.

The UI student-founded nonprofit has launched endeavors like the 10,000 Hours Show, Mission Creek Festival, and Quire.

With the start of a new year upon us, it's time to look back at your favorite University of Iowa stories from 2018. Here are Iowa Magazine's top 10 most-read articles of the year: The Nomadic Life (spring 2018) Hawkeye football favorite Paki O'Meara (10BA) finds ultimate freedom in backpacking around the world, taking photos that inspire a sense of wonder. PHOTO COURTESY PAKI O'MEARA Kinnick at 100 (summer 2018) This past summer marked two historically significant dates for Hawkeye fans: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nile Kinnick (40BA), and the 75th anniversary of his tragic death. In memory of Iowa's favorite son, scholar, and Ironman, we look back on his life and legacy. Ahead of the Game (spring 2018) The Iowa football team becomes the first in the nation to equip the majority of its players with a state-of-the-art new helmet designed to improve player safety. PHOTO: MARK STASTNY Hollywood U (fall 2018) Alumni success in TV and film shines the spotlight on Iowa's? flourishing screenwriting program. ILLUSTRATION: FABIEN GILBERT / ARTISTIQUE INTERNATIONAL Mountain Roots (spring 2018) Nearly 80 years ago, an unlikely UI mountain-climbing club emerged from the cornfields of Iowa to become one of the most active in the world. Now the next generation of outdoorsmen continue in their Hawkeye family's footsteps. PHOTO COURTESY EBERT FAMILY The Secrets of Sleep (fall 2018) UI doctors and researchers work to shine light on the third of our lives we spend in the dark. Illustration: John Emigh Fry's Dream Team (fall 2018) FRYFest honors Hayden Fry's legendary 1983 coaching tree. PHOTO: UI ATHLETICS Going the Distance (spring 2018) UI-trained dentist Deb Carneol (92DDS) completes seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. PHOTO: MARK CONLON/WORLDMARATHONCHALLENGE.COM At 105, Our Oldest Hawkeye? (spring 2018) Catherine Shaw Shors (35BSC), who earned her business degree from Iowa more than eight decades ago, celebrated a milestone birthday in May. 1936 HAWKEYE YEARBOOK A Heroic Homecoming (spring 2018) Avengers: Infinity War director Joe Russo (92BA) receives a superhero's welcome at his alma mater. PHOTOS: Justin Torner

Past Dance Marathon participants who spent 24 hours on their feet For The Kids (FTK) are invited to join the Dance Marathon Alumni Group (DMAG).

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.