Adrian College to honor Ukraine President Zelenskyy with honorary degree

The Daily Telegram (By David Panian) — Both Adrian College and Siena Heights University will confer honorary degrees upon Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at their spring commencement ceremonies in May.

At least 17 colleges and universities in the United States intend to honor Zelenskyy, 44, for the leadership he has shown since Russia invaded its neighbor on Feb. 24 and caused widespread death and destruction amongst Ukraine’s civilian population.

“The suffering, anguish, death and separation that the people of Ukraine have experienced is unconscionable,” SHU President Sister Peg Albert said in a release from the university. “Through all of this, Zelenskyy has resolutely defended his country and forged forward to preserve his nation and all that it stands for. His heart-felt compassion and unwavering courage are not witnessed too often in our world today.”

Siena Heights will bestow on Zelenskyy the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during its commencement ceremonies on May 7–8.

“In a time of great division within our land, I believe our country is united around support for the Ukrainian people,” Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking said in an emailed statement. “Groups from both ends of the political spectrum believe that Russia’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians, women, and children in a sovereign country is a brutal crime and should be condemned by people everywhere.

“It is difficult to believe that the unprovoked slaughter of thousands of innocent people in a sovereign nation continues to take place in the 21st Century. It is up to the civilized nations of the world — and the peace-loving people who inhabit those nations — to oppose President Putin in every way possible. One of the ways to voice our collective opposition to this tyranny is to honor President Zelenskyy for his courage and unwillingness to surrender.”

Adrian College’s spring commencement will take place May 1.

Both schools are part of a group of higher education institutions that are conferring honorary degrees upon Zelenskyy. The movement started in New York State, when Alfred University approached the Ukrainian embassy about having Zelenskyy give a virtual address to its graduates.

When an official at the Ukrainian embassy declined the western New York university’s request, the institutions agreed to award honorary degrees in absentia to honor Zelenskyy.

“The gesture was motivated by the inspiring example provided by President Zelenskyy to his people and the broader world in defense of freedom and democracy,” Alfred University President Mark Zupan said in a news release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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