Author Greg Mortenson could lose honorary UW Bothell degree

BOTHELL — Author Greg Mortenson could be stripped of an honorary degree he received in June 2008 from the University of Washington’s Bothell campus.

The university’s chancellor convened a committee Wednesday to discuss Mortenson after a “60 Minutes” report aired Sunday. The report alleges that Mortenson fabricated parts of the best-selling book, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time.” Also included were claims that Mortenson mismanaged donations to the Central Asia Institute, his nonprofit organization.

Mortenson was invited by Chancellor Kenyon Chan to be the speaker at the UW Bothell commencement ceremonies, spokesman Bill Hayes said. The university paid $3,000 that year to his charity.

Mortenson’s book that he co-wrote with David Oliver Relin in 2006 tells how in September 1993 he tried and failed to reach the summit of K2, the world’s second highest mountain. Mortenson wrote that he became lost on his way down Baltoro Glacier and received care at the farming village of Korphe in northeastern Pakistan. His experience in the village began his campaign to build schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The “60 Minutes” report and an online book, “Three Cups of Deceit,” by author and onetime supporter, Jon Krakauer, claim that story and others in the book, including Mortenson’s tale of being kidnapped by the Taliban, aren’t true.

Hayes said the committee is expected to review the reports and make recommendations to the university president and Board of Regents within 60 days. Taking away Mortenson’s honorary doctorate of letters from the university is “within the realm of possibilities,” he said.

“It’s pretty abnormal to have something like this happen at all,” Hayes said.

Mortenson’s most recent appearance in the state was on March 28 at Gonzaga University in Spokane. He also spoke on March 1 at R.A. Long High School in Longview and on Jan. 27 at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon. That visit included a free lecture for elementary students held at Mount Vernon High School.

Mortenson’s message was inspiring and included the importance of local community service, said Carl Young, director of the Skagit Valley College Foundation.

“It was a very positive message,” he said. “I’m saddened that even the questions have been raised but my own sense is this has weeks if not months to play out until we know what the real facts are.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491;

Talk to us

More in Local News

911 received multiple calls reporting a fire at Marie Anne Terrace apartments early Monday morning, Feb. 6, 2023 in Everett, Washington. There were no injuries or fatalities. (Everett Fire Department)
Fire damages Everett apartments, displaces 10

The fire at the Marie Anne Terrace apartments Monday night displaced four families and caused extensive property damage.

A rack with cards bettors can use to choose their own numbers to purchase lottery ticket on a counter at a market. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Been to Auburn lately? That’s where $754M Powerball ticket was sold

This is only the second time a Powerball jackpot has been won in Washington.

Granite Falls
Man shot near Granite Falls; assailants at large

Two suspects fled after shooting a 33-year-old man in a motorhome Tuesday morning, according to police.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Democratic Latinos form a caucus, hospital staffing bill clears a hurdle

It’s Day 31. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Two guests stop to take in a large-scale painting by artist Iryna Kalyuzhna during a public event highlighting the For Ukraine: Art of Freedom exhibit at the Schack Art Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ukrainian art in Everett showcases grief, hope in war-torn nation

“For Ukraine: Art of Freedom” at the Schack Center aims to remind Americans of the war and raise money for maternity hospitals.

Most Read