University of Toronto
June 3, 2004


His Highness the Aga Khan will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Toronto's spring convocation Friday, June 18, at 2:30 p.m. in Convocation Hall, 31 King's College Circle.

Media must register in advance by calling 416-978-2105 or e-mailing by Monday, June 14. Tickets will not be available to the public for this convocation as the Hall is reserved for the members of the graduating class and their guests.

The University of Toronto will confer an honorary degree on the Aga Khan for his outstanding contributions to community service, higher education and philanthropy. "His Highness the Aga Khan has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving the living conditions of the disadvantaged and to the promotion of higher education for all," says President Robert Birgeneau. "He has consistently championed idealism and service and inspired people around the world to follow his example. We feel privileged that he will be adding the University of Toronto's highest honour to his list of achievements."

His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. Born in 1936 in Geneva, Switzerland, he spent his early childhood in Kenya, before attending school in Switzerland. He graduated from Harvard University in 1959 with a BA (honours) in Islamic history. In 1957, at the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather as the hereditary leader of the Ismaili Muslims.

The Aga Khan emphasizes the view of Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith that teaches compassion and tolerance and that upholds the dignity of man. In the Shia tradition of Islam, it is the mandate of the Imam to safeguard the individual's right to personal intellectual search and to give practical expression to an ethical vision of society.

The Aga Khan will address graduating students who will receive undergraduate degrees from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of U of T.

*Space at the convocation is extremely limited and media will be restricted to one area. Upon arrival at Convocation Hall, media must present credentials and sign in. Parking is extremely limited.


Jessica Whiteside
U of T Public Affairs