Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Awarded Honorary Degree

If you caught the impressive entourage walking through North Quad yesterday morning and wondered who it was for, it belonged to Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah— the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Kuwait, former Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, Claremont McKenna alum and current parent of a graduating senior.

Dr. Al-Sabah was on campus to receive an honorary doctor of laws. The minister was originally notified of the honor during President Gann's trip to the Middle East in March, at which point they began coordinating a visit to campus for him to accept the degree.

Typically, honorary degrees are awarded by colleges and universities during commencement ceremonies each spring. But as Dr. Al-Sabah is unable to make CMC's May 15 graduation, an Athenaeum luncheon was hosted instead.

At the lunch, Dr. Al-Sabah described his alma mater as having a special place in his heart. "Let your heart float and drift in the sea of passion," he said. "There is no love but your first love." The sheikh had turned down an invitation from Condeleeza Rice to speak at Stanford the same day, he noted, as his visit to California was for Claremont.

Dr. Al-Sabah, 55 years old, is the fiftieth person to receive an honorary degree in the College's history. The dignitary has already earned a PhD from Harvard in economics in addition to his BA from CMC, which he earned cum laude in 1978.

In the past, honorary degrees have been given sparingly. Until 2002, only one or two individuals were awarded such degrees each year, if any were given at all. Ceremonies were traditionally separate from commencement, which was an unusual practice. While almost always doctor of laws degrees (LH D), CMC has occasionally awarded doctor of humane letters degrees, to figures such as Marian Miner Cook and George Van Tubergen. The Board of Trustees revised their honorary degree policy in 2003, and as a result, the number of degrees awarded annually has increased.

Dr. Al-Sabah will not be the only Kuwaiti awarded an honorary degree this year. Abdulatif Al-Hamad, Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and another CMC alumnus and parent, has also been chosen to receive a doctor of law.