Madame Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of the Republic of Iceland (1980-1996) and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for languages, was made Doctor Honoris Causa at Sorbonne University Paris IV on Tuesday 11 October. By this distinction, the Sorbonne honours her contribution in favour of gender equality, languages and culture and her historical election as the first woman to be elected Head of State in a democratic election. In addition, the distinction honours her longstanding contribution to the academic world.
The Institute of Nordic Studies at Sorbonne Paris IV had the initiative that Vigdís be thus distinguished and a formal ceremony took place at the Grand Amphitheatre of the Sorbonne. As the Université Sorbonne Paris IV in art, letters and humanities, and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in sciences will merge next year, it was decided to honour personalities who have made decisive contributions in medicine, sciences and humanities, among whom Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway. At the ceremony, Karl Gadelii, professor of Scandinavian linguistics, pronounced the solemn praise of Vigdís.
After the ceremony, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and Gro Harlem Brundtland gave lectures at the Institute of Nordic Studies at Sorbonne Paris IV. Vigdís gave a lecture in French entitled „Vous l’avez entendu? La révélation de la grève des femmes de 1975“. In her talk, she discussed the women´s day off in Iceland of 1975 and its aftermath, and the importance of languages and cultural proficiency for international relations. Gro Harlem Brundtland´s lecture was entitled „Equality and Environment. Crucial and Integrated Parts of Sustainable Development“. Students and scholars at the Institute of Nordic Studies at Sorbonne Paris IV filled the conference room.
Afterwards, the Ambassador of Iceland to France, Mr. Kristján Andri Stefánsson, hosted a reception in honour of Vigdís. Among the guests were Pr. Barthélémy Jobert, President of the Université Sorbonne Paris IV, and Pr. Jean Chambaz, President of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, as well as a number of former and current colleagues and collaborators of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir in France along with Icelanders in Paris.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir has been made Doctor Honoris causa by more than 20 universities around the world.
Other personalities who were distinguished on this occasion were:
In medical sciences:
- Birgit Arabin, a precursor in pre- and perinatal studies, University Philipps de Marburg, founder of Clara Angela Foundation, Germany
- George Ellis, Professor emeritus of mathematics, University of Cape Town, South-Africa
- Alice P. Gast, President of Imperial College London, United Kingdom
- Michael O. Hengartner, President of the University of Zürich, Switzerland and Canada
- Dusa McDuff, Professor emeritus of mathematics, New York State University at Stony Brook, United States of America
- Cynthia E. Rosenzweig, Professor at Barnard College and researcher at the Goddard Institute NASA, United States of America
- Richard Stallman, founder of Free Software Foundation, United States of America
- Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, Director of the bio-technology department, ministry of science and technology, India
- Roger S. Bagnall, former Director and Professor emeritus of Ancient History, New York University, United States of America
- Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, Norway
- Dmitrij Dobrovolskij, Professor in German linguistics at the Russian Academy, Russia
- Dany Laferrière, of the Académie française, writer, Haiti and Canada
- Anthony Lodge, Professor emeritus of French linguistics at Saint Andrews University, United Kingdom.
The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute presents its warmest congratulations to Vigdís Finnbogadóttir on the occasion of this grand distinction.