Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO, Awarded Honorary Doctorate Degree in Peace Studies

2018-02-07 Academic

On Tuesday, February 13, 2018, the 2017 Commencement Ceremony took place simultaneously at the Grand Peace Hall on the Seoul Campus and at the Sunseung Peace Hall in the Sports Complex on the International campus.

A total of 4,591 diplomas were awarded, including 3,848 bachelor’s degrees, 535 master’s, and 208 doctoral degrees. The commencement ceremony for the Seoul campus was hosted at the Grand Peace Hall, which was filled to capacity by more than 2,000 graduating class students and their families. The graduation celebration was also adorned by another meaningful event: the conferment ceremony of an honorary doctoral degree to Irina Bokova and the appointment of the former Director-General of UNESCO to Miwon Chair Professorship and Honorary Rector of Humanitas College.

Irina Bokova completed her two consecutive terms (2009 ? 2017) as the head of UNESCO in November last year. Her achievements, leadership, philosophy, and vision were widely recognized by the world, which in 2016 led to her nomination as one of the final candidates for the office of UN Secretary-General. Kyung Hee University decided to award Bokova with the honorary degree, not only to pay tribute to her contributions to human societies, to European politics, and to the educational, cultural, scientific, and technological development of the world, but also based on future efforts she is expected to make in addressing complex global challenges.

In her acceptance speech and congratulatory remark, Bokova alluded to King Sejong’s emphasis on the heritage of the Korean people’s ethnic roots in his hangul publication Yongbieocheonga (Songs of the Dragons). She charged the audience with the mission that all men and women must “protect the inherent and sacrosanct dignity of all humans in order to build peace.” In addition, she identified “training the citizens of the global community” as the role given to universities, which also “coincides with the mission of Kyung Hee University,” expressing her “pleasure to be embarking on a marvelous and exciting journey with Kyung Hee.”

President Inwon Choue exhorted graduates to aim ‘towards a better me, and a better world’
In response to Bokova’s acceptance speech, student Seung-Jae Hong (MA in Business Management) made a pledge on behalf of the graduating class saying, “As we graduate today, we must now confront a drastic change in life style. While we may continue to make choices and changes, we are already meaningful individuals in ourselves, children to our parents, friends to our peers, and outstanding citizens to our society. We will continue to strive to be marvelous Kyung Hee graduates.”

In his commencement speech, President Choue cited Paul Gauguin’s famous masterpiece, “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” to remind the class of their mission. He said, “Every individual lives with a dream. We have dreams to seek, as well as our collective global and social challenges that we must address together. Between our private desires and public responsibilities, we must find solutions to these problems.”

President Choue then added, “People are now expected to live for a 100 years. In this world of longer life expectancy, attending college just once will not be enough to sustain your growth for the rest of your life; the future will require life-long learning.” He went on to express his hope that graduates will “expand their horizons on truth and reality, as well as dreams and aspirations, thereby making sizeable contributions to creating a better me and a better world.”

The formal commencement ceremony was followed by an awards ceremony, including the President’s Awards and those given to outstanding theses and dissertations. Then, diplomas were handed out before the graduation concert took the stage.

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