Liberian President to speak, receive honorary degree at Marquette University
Released: Oct. 4, 2006
Date: Monday, Oct. 23, 2006
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Place: Alumni Memorial Union Ballroom
1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, will receive an honorary degree from Marquette in ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 23, in the ballroom of the Alumni Memorial Union, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave. The event, at which Johnson Sirleaf will speak, is free and open to the public. Tickets may be picked up on campus in the Brooks Lounge of the Alumni Memorial Union, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave., Monday through Friday from noon to 11:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 11:30 p.m.
President Johnson Sirleaf, who took office in January 2006, is internationally recognized as a leading promoter of peace, justice and democratic rule. Known as the “Iron Lady” for her strong will and determination as well as for her personal integrity, she is committed to ethical reform for the people of Liberia and the importance of education. During years of exile, the Harvard-educated President held senior leadership positions with the World Bank and the United Nations.
In her efforts to bring justice to her people in Liberia, she has spent more than a year in jail at the hands of the military dictatorship of General Samuel Doe and had her life threatened by former President Charles Taylor. She campaigned relentlessly for Taylor’s removal from office and has played an active and supportive role in the Transitional Government of Liberia as the country prepared for elections in October of 2005.
A mother of four sons and grandmother of nine, President Johnson Sirleaf is a strong supporter of community development and education, particularly for girls.
The Liberian President is the co-author of Women, War and Peace: The Independent Experts’ Assessment on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Women and Women’s Role in Peace-building, which was published in 2002 by the United Nations’ Development Fund for Women. She was one of seven individuals appointed by the Organization of African unity to investigate the Rwanda genocide in 1999. She is a visiting professor of governance at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.
Along with First Lady Laura Bush, President Johnson Sirleaf recently received the 2006 International Republican Institute Freedom Award. She has also received the Ralph Bunche International Leadership Award, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Speech Award, Grand Commander of the Star of African Redemption of Liberia.
“Through her service as a Liberian Cabinet minister in the 1970s, as a senior U.N. administrator in the 1990s, and now as her country's president, President Johnson-Sirleaf has always been deeply devoted to her country,” Laura Bush said at the IRI ceremony last month. “Her dedication to Liberia has never diminished -- not even in the face of persecution." She called the Liberian president a "terrific example of the power of education, and of why it's important to educate women and girls, and to improve opportunities for women in Africa and around the world."
This is only the second time in Marquette’s 125-year history that a sitting head of government has made an official visit to the university. On June 16, 1956, President Edward O'Donnell, S.J., conferred an Honorary Doctor of Law degree on German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
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