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The Aga Khan receives honorary degree from Trinity College at U of T

The Aga Khan with the Honourable Bill Graham, chancellor of Trinity College (at left) and former provost Andy Orchard (at right). (All photos © AKDN 2013)

The University of Toronto's Trinity College awarded His Highness the Aga Khan an honorary degree of Doctor of Sacred Letters November 25 for his service to humanity.

This degree acknowledges His Highness’ exceptional efforts to improve the health, education and living conditions of the poorest people of the world by empowering them to achieve self-reliance. The Aga Khan was awarded the degree at a special convocation presided over by the College’s chancellor, the Honourable William C. Graham (pictured below left). 

“Trinity College in the University of Toronto is conferring the degree of Doctor of Sacred Letters on His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan in recognition of his contribution to peace, security and the well-being of millions of people throughout the world," said Graham. "His encouragement of pluralism and dialogue among all races and religions, and the global institutional framework he has established in many troubled areas of the world to further these goals and provide education and health services through the Aga Khan Development Network, is an inspiration to us all.

"He has enriched our country by establishing major institutions in Canada such as the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.”

Based in one of the most diverse cities in the world, Trinity College is proud to be home to students who reflect that diversity, in nationality, ethnicity and culture, Graham said. Home to a renowned international relations program – an undergraduate degree program that brings historical, political and economic perspectives to the relationships between nations in today’s global environment – the College looks forward to new and exciting opportunities to collaborate with the Aga Khan Development Network, said Graham.

"Trinity College’s Divinity Faculty graduates priests in the Anglican tradition," said Graham. "This honorary degree, granted to the Aga Khan in the presence of the Archbishop of Toronto, symbolizes the importance of interfaith dialogue that is a cornerstone of our faiths."

The convocation was attended by Interim Provost Michael Ratcliffe, Former Provost Andy Orchard, Fellows of the College, senior members of the University, community leaders and distinguished alumni.

Adrienne Clarkson (at lectern) with the Aga Khan and dignitaries in Seeley HallAddressing the convocation, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, alumna and honorary fellow of the College, said, “Having had the honour of knowing and working with His Highness the Aga Khan for a number of years, I feel that all Trinity graduates will be delighted that he is accepting this honour to acknowledge the work he is doing in Canada and internationally.

"No one has done more to further the cause of diversity, inclusion and sharing than this remarkable leader and human being.”

The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and chair of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), one of the largest private development agencies in the world. Since taking on his role as Imam in 1957, he has been deeply engaged in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations, while emphasizing the need to uphold human dignity as well as respect for tolerance and pluralism.

The AKDN is active in over 30 developing countries, employing some 80,000 people with the support of tens of thousands of volunteers. The network’s underlying ethic is that of compassion for the most vulnerable in society and service to humanity without regard to faith, origin or gender.

His Highness was granted honorary Canadian citizenship in 2009. His activities in Canada include the establishment of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa; the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa; the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver; and a major cultural complex currently under development in Toronto that includes the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre and a landscaped park.