Mawlana Hazar Imam honoured at University of Wales Centenary

On Tuesday, the 30th of November 1993, the University of Wales marked the one hundredth anniversary of its foundation in a grand Centenary Ceremony at St. David's Hall, Cardiff where Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, as Chancellor of the University of Wales, conferred upon Mawlana Hazar Imam the honourary degree of Doctor of Laws (LL.D) for Hazar Imam's patronage of education and academic research throughout the world.

An honourary Doctor of Laws degree was also awarded to the President of Ireland, Mrs. Mary Robinson, who was recognised for her contributions to the law and to international statesmanship. Also honoured at the same ceremony were: Professor Vaughan Jones, mathematician; the Reverend Islwyn Ffowe Elis, prominent Welsh novelist and essayist; Professor D. Ellis Evans, Celtic scholar; Mr. Kyffin Williams, leading Welsh artist; the Reverend Professor Owen Chadwich, historian and ecclesiastical scholar; and the Right Honourable Lord Jakobovits of Regent's park, theologian.

Colourful processions into St. David's Hall of the University's academic staff, Crown and vici representatives, the eight honourary graduands, University and College officers preceded the Chancellor's procession, which was heralded by a fanfare played by trumpeters of the Royal Regiment of Wales. Following the reading of the proclamation of the Ceremony in Welsh and in English and an opening address by the Pro - Chancellor, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, President Robinson responded on behalf of the honourary graduands.

In an elaborate and dignified ceremony, punctuated by repeated "doffing" of academic caps and handshakes, each of the honourary graduands was individually formally presented to the Chancellor for admission to his or her degree following address in Welsh or English which contained the degree citation. After being admitted to the degree, each honourary graduate was welcomed into the Guild of Graduates and presented with the degree certificate.

Mawlana Hazar Imam's degree citation noted that in honouring Hazar Imam, the University was paying tribute to "a great spiritual and humanitarian tradition" for his "work that has diminished poverty, unemployment and ignorance." Noting that "his many institutions established since his accession to the Imamat in 1957 have transformed the quality of life of millions of people in the developing world of Africa and Asia," the citation went on to state that those institutions had "a matchless record of creative endeavour among the poorer people of our world."

The citation made specific mention of the Aga Khan Foundation's social development programs in community-based health services, in early childhood education, and in rural development, and of the Aga Khan University's Medical College, School of Nursing and Institute for Educational Development. Also recognised in the citation were the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development's initiatives in industry and finance as well as the Aga Khan Trust for Culture's programs which reflected Mawlana Hazar Imam's concern for the built environment, the quality of architectural education and for the rehabilitation of historic cities and their preservation "as keys to community renewal and revitalization.

After the award of each of the honourary degrees, illuminated address of greetings and gifts were presented to the University, which is the second largest in the United Kingdom, by each of its six constituent colleges, by the National Library of Wales, by the National Museum of Wales and by the University of Oxford. the formal ceremony concluded with an address by professor D. Ellis Evans, Jesus Professor of Celtic, University of Oxford, who recalled the University's contribution to the Welsh language and culture and reminded those present that "a University should be a community of scholars seeking after knowledge, a community for whom enlightenment, liberty and learning should be its highest aspiration.."

In the evening of the same day, the University hosted a Centenary banquet at the Cardiff City Hall in honour of the honourary graduands. Mawlana Hazar Imam, accorded due protocol and seated to the right of the Prince of Wales, was warmly praised in a speech by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kenneth Morgan. Prince Charles, in his address, expressed his great admiration for the development work that Mawlana Hazar Imam had initiated and mentioned particularly the impressive achievement of the rural development program in the Northern Areas of Pakistan which he said had set an example for others to follow. The banquet, whose formality was much lightened by the warm welcome of its Welsh hosts, was preceeded by a reception and the signature of the Visitor's Book in the Mayor's Parlour by the Mawlana Hazar Imam, President Robinson and the Prince of Wales.

The honourary degree awarded the Mawlana Hazar Imam by the University of Wales follows LL.D degrees which Hazar Imam has received from the University of Peshawar and the University of Sind in Pakistan in 1967 and 1970, respectively, and from McGill University and McMaster University in Canada in 1983 and 1987, respectively. More recently, in 1989, Mawlana Hazar Imam was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature (D. Litt.) in Education by the University of London.

(Source: Canada Ismaili March 1994)

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