WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ted Vestal, professor emeritus of political science at Oklahoma State University, received the Knight Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Honor of Ethiopia on March 3 at the Victory of Adwa Dinner. The honor is one of the highest Ethiopian rankings and included the formality of a dubbing with Imperial Court Sword on both shoulders by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie and the courtesy of being referred to as “Your Excellency.”
Vestal’s service to Ethiopia began in the 1960s when he served as an associate director in the Peace Corps. He was stationed in Ethiopia for two years with his wife and three young children.
“I met some outstanding Ethiopians from around the country,” Vestal said.
In the 1980s, Vestal relocated from San Francisco to Oklahoma to teach constitutional law for 20 years in OSU’s Department of Political Science. It was then that he decided to start researching and writing about Ethiopia. His recent award was based on the recognition of his books, “The Lion of Judah in the New World: Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Shaping of Americans' Attitudes Toward Africa,” “Ethiopia: a Post-Cold War African State” and his education of Ethiopians, Americans and others. Vestal has also published 70 articles and book chapters on Ethiopia.
“This honor was the capstone of my work with Ethiopia through the Peace Corps, researching and writing,” Vestal said.
OSU’s ties to Ethiopia began long before Vestal’s endeavors. In 1950, OSU President Henry Bennett accepted the Imperial Ethiopian Government’s invitation to visit the country. Four years later, OSU helped establish Ethiopia’s first university. Today, Haramaya University has more than 30,000 students enrolled.
Crown Prince Ermias is scheduled to be at OSU in April for a campus visit.
Vestal lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was proud to have his daughter, son and granddaughter with him at the formal investiture in Washington D.C.