H.E. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace prize laureate and the first woman to be elected to serve as a head of state of an African nation, was honored with a Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa, from the University of Haifa at a festive event on Tuesday, held as part of the University’s 44th Meeting of the Board of Governors.
The honor was bestowed upon Sirleaf in recognition of her courageous leadership in the face of danger; her willingness to take a path toward peace and prosperity for her people; and her struggle to secure equal rights for women. “During my career as a public servant, as Opposition leader, a member of state, and of course as president, I tried to do one thing alone – to make my country better for the sake of my people”, said president Sirleaf.
Mr. Amos Shapira, president of the University of Haifa, said: “Throughout her life President Sirleaf proved that success and ability have no gender. For this, and for her extensive work to advance universal values of human dignity, the right to education, and liberty, it is our pleasure to award her the highest honor that the University awards – the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa“.
Sirleaf won the presidential elections in Liberia in 2006, thereby becoming the first women to serve as a head of state in Africa. Her election followed two decades of bloody civil war. President Sirleaf improved Liberia’s economic standing, increased foreign investments in the country, and reduced its national debt. At the same time, she worked to improve the status of women and human rights in general, as well as improving the health and education systems. Her successful leadership won her the nickname “the Iron Lady of Africa.”
In 2011 President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her non-violent struggle to promote women’s security and their right to participate fully in peacemaking activities. In 2012, Sirleaf was re-elected for a second term as President of the Republic of Liberia.
Along with President Sirleaf, ten other received the honorary degree:
- Ms. Herta Amir (USA), in recognition of her contribution to higher education;
- Prof. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (USA),in recognition of his excellence in the field of international relations in general and studies on conflict, war and peace in particular;
- Prof. Shafi Goldwasser (Israel/USA),in recognition of her groundbreaking contribution to the development and promotion of computer science in general, and encryption and data security in particular;
- Dr. Gyongyver and Mr. Peter Kadas (United Kingdom), in recognition of their significant contribution to the advancement of higher education and scientific research in the world;
- Prof. Daniel Kahneman (Israel/USA), in recognition of his creativity and rare academic courage that allowed him to integrate insights from research in psychology into the field of economics;
- Mr. Lee Kohrman (USA), for fostering values of equality and equal opportunities and for his contribution to the Ethiopian community in Israel in general, and the children of the community in particular;
- Mr. Doron Livnat (Israel), in recognition of his assistance to disadvantaged groups in society;
- Prof. Charles Milgrom (Israel/USA), in recognition of his partnering in the vision of the University of Haifa, which promotes development of novel drugs through groundbreaking theoretical and applied research; and
- Prof. David Nirenberg (USA), in recognition of his analysis of the complexity of relations between Christians, Muslims and Jews in the multicultural society of the Middle Ages.
For more on each Honorary Degree recipient, click here.