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Former US Ambassador, SU Alumnus James Joseph Dies at 88


U.S. ambassador to South Africa James A. Joseph,
U.S. ambassador to South Africa James A. Joseph,

BATON ROUGE, La. — Southern University is mourning the loss of alumnus and former U.S. ambassador to South Africa James A. Joseph, who died on Friday, Feb. 17, at the age of 88.

University officials confirmed Joseph's passing and said he had dedicated his life to service.

“Ambassador Joseph’s life of service has been a gift to this nation and the world,” said Dennis J. Shields, president-chancellor of the Southern University System. “His commitment and contributions to the academy and leadership development were immeasurable.”


According to Southern University, Joseph was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to serve as ambassador to South Africa, a post he held from 1996 to 2000. He became the first ambassador to present credentials to South African President Nelson Mandela.


Joseph graduated from Southern University and A&M College in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then earned a divinity degree from Yale University.


Southern University officials said that Joseph's contributions to the academy and leadership development were immeasurable. In addition to serving as the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, he also served as undersecretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior and was appointed chairman of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation following Hurricane Katrina.


The loss of Joseph, a distinguished public servant and leader, is deeply felt by the Southern University community and the nation as a whole.

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