Rwandan President to give commencement address at William Penn University

William Penn University Vice President for Government Relations, Outreach & Special Projects, Steve Noah with His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda. Noah signed the original Memorandum of Understanding with the Rwandan Ministry of Education on behalf of William Penn University and has played an active role in developing the relationship between the Republic of Rwanda and William Penn University.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – William Penn University President Dr. Ann Fields announced today that His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, will present the commencement address on Saturday, May 12, 2012 to a graduating class of 370 students and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, for his contributions to the humanities or human welfare.

President Kagame has been recognized as a world leader for his role in human interest issues and he is known for empowering young people and women, as evident by the high percentage of women serving on the Rwandan Parliament (56%). President Kagame has received multiple honors during his presidency including: the Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2009, being named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and His Excellency received the ‘Lifetime Leadership Award for Development and Equality’ by Rwandan Women in 2010.

William Penn University’s relationship with Rwanda began in September of 2007 when Rwandan Ambassador to the United States, James Kimonyo, presented the keynote speech at the President’s Convocation. In July of 2008, William Penn signed an agreement with the Rwandan Ministry of Education to accept four Rwandan “Presidential Scholars” to enroll at William Penn University. Three of these four young people will graduate at the May 12 ceremony. The fourth graduated in December of 2011. William Penn renewed this agreement with the Ministry in September of 2011 and will enroll an additional five students from Rwanda per academic year, beginning in the fall of 2012. Over the past five years, William Penn University has hosted the Rwandan Ambassador to the United States, two ministers of education, four presidents of Rwandan universities, and several other officials of the Republic.

The University also established an ongoing relationship with a small Rwandan college, the Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Education of Kibungo (INATEK), in 2008. INATEK opened its doors in 2003 with the vision to rebuild Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide, which took place in 1994-’95, by providing better education opportunities to the survivors. Since its inception, INATEK has made a significant impact on the economy of the entire province, both on individual and community levels. The relationship between William Penn and INATEK includes staff and student exchanges between the two educational institutions. In March of 2012, President Ann Fields led a group of eight graduate and undergraduate students on a two-week study abroad trip to the Republic of Rwanda as part of that exchange program.

William Penn University is a four-year liberal arts institution founded by Quakers 1873. With 1500 students representing 41 states and 13 countries on three campuses, William Penn has one of the most diverse student populations in the Midwest.



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