Two Exes Among Time’s Most Influential 100

Time magazine has released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and two Texas Exes — Salam Fayyad and Kathleen Merrgian — made the rankings with the likes of Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Bill Clinton, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Conan O’Brien.

Divided among Leaders, Heroes, Artists, and Thinkers the list isn’t meant to honor the influence of power, says Rick Stengel, managing editor of Time. “It’s about the power of influence. It’s about how individuals — men and women — through their ideas, through their actions, are changing the world — and mostly for the better.”

The list, which is in Time‘s May 10 issue, includes essays on each person written by a peer. Tony Blair, former prime minister of the United Kingdom and a current representative of the Quartet on the Middle East, shared his thoughts on the influence of 2008 Distinguished Alumnus Salam Fayyad, PhD ’86, who is the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority.

Blair lays out Fayyad’s influence simply. Citing his announcement in August of a program to build the apparatus of a Palestinian state within two years, Blair writes, “He doesn’t hesitate to lead from the front, often with great personal courage. It is this conviction — and his unquestionable personal integrity — that allows him to keep going in the face of daunting odds.”

As deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, MPA ’87, stands out as a top “thinker.” Merrigan wonderfully represents the diversity of the town she called home while in graduate school: she supports community gardening, farmers’ markets, and local and organic food — yet she also supports conventional farmers. She “refuses to vilify biotech and relishes above all else a good steak,” writes Dan Barber, chef and owner of Blue Hill, a restaurant in New York that devotes itself to sustainable food.

“If you’ve ever wondered who in government shoulders the complexities of moving an agenda forward in a fractured time and pushes on without getting soaked,” he sums it up, “here is your answer.”

Are there other Longhorns changing the world for the better that you think Time should have recognized? It may be too late to make Time‘s list this year, but you can nominate any outstanding alums to the Texas Exes’ list of Extraordinary Exes.

And for those wondering how Time does develop its list, see managing editor Rick Stengel and the issue editor Radhika Jones talk about how they determine each year’s top 100.





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