USF awards honorary doctorate to former Norway Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.
The University of San Francisco recognized the life’s work of Kjell
Magne Bondevik, twice the prime minister of Norway and the founding
president of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, by awarding
him an honorary degree Sept. 30.
The degree was presented at St.
Ignatius Church, as part of the Mass of the Holy Spirit. Later,
Bondevik spoke at USF’s Justice Lecture Series, sponsored by University
Ministry and the Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Studies and
Social Thought, in Presentation Theater.
Bondevik, a Lutheran
minister who was prime minister from 1997-2005, is known for increasing
programs in health care and education, appointing a large number of
women to cabinet posts, protecting the environment, and pledging
humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Iraq.
In 2006, he founded the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights
to promote international human rights activities, world peace,
religious tolerance, and democracy. As the founding and current
president of the Oslo Center, he has spoken forcefully about human
rights violations in Burma, traveled to China to encourage government
officials there to make strides in influencing the Burmese Junta, and
discussed drawing Iran out of isolation by engaging its leaders in
Bondevik also served as the United Nations Secretary
General's Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa where he spearheaded
efforts to address drought, food shortages, and promote political
“Love for my neighbor is the strongest power that
any political decision maker can yield anywhere in the world,” said
Bondevik, whose political views and commitment to public service are
informed by his theological beliefs.
In 1998, Bondevik
contributed to efforts to demystify and destigmatize mental illness,
becoming the first world leader to publicly announce that he was taking
a four-week leave of absence to be treated for depression. After
returning to work, he received thousands of letters from Norwegian
citizens praising him for his courage in addressing his illness
publicly, many saying that it gave them the strength to seek help and
to begin their own recovery.
Addressing the British Parliament
last year, Bondevik encouraged lawmakers to change archaic mental
illness laws in England and noted that mental illness should be no more
mysterious than a physical illness and that it was possible to recover,
as he had done.
To see video of the Mass of the Holy Spirit and honorary degree presentation visit: www.usfca.edu/stream/bondevik/
To see video of Bondevik's speech at the Justice Lecture Series visit: www.usfca.edu/stream/bondevik/bondevik_jls.html