Focus on Africa

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Receive Honorary Degree

September 9, 2008  |  Media Contact: Deborah Baum |  401-863-2476
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - The president of the Republic of Liberia will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf The president of the Republic of Liberia will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will speak at Brown University and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree on Friday, Sept. 19, 2008. Her talk, a conversation with Brown President Ruth J. Simmons, will begin at 2 p.m. in Sayles Hall. Tickets, free of charge, will be required for admission.
Update: As of Friday afternoon, Sept. 12, all tickets have been distributed. Tickets are not required for the video simulcast in the Salomon Center.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of the Republic of Liberia, will visit Brown Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, for a public conversation with University President Ruth J. Simmons. Their talk will begin at 2 p.m. in Sayles Hall, located on The College Green. Prior to that conversation, the University will confer an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) on Johnson Sirleaf.

Tickets, available free of charge, will be required to attend the event. Seating will be reserved for press who have University-issued credentials for the event (see below). A video simulcast of the event will be presented in the Salomon Center for Teaching. Tickets are not required for the simulcast.

Known as Africa’s “Iron Lady,” Johnson Sirleaf is widely acknowledged as a determined advocate for peace, justice, and democratic rule Liberia. In November 2005, she was elected president of Liberia, becoming the first woman elected to lead an African nation. The Harvard-educated former World Bank economist won the election with 59.4 percent of the vote.

Prior to her election, Johnson Sirleaf had spent more than a year in jail during the military dictatorship of Gen. Samuel Doe. Johnson Sirleaf subsequently campaigned for the removal from office of former president Charles Taylor and played an active role in establishing the transitional government of Liberia following his departure from office. After serving as chair of the Governance Reform Commission of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, she resigned in 2004 to accept the nomination of the Unity Party of Liberia as its standard-bearer. Winning a run-off election by a margin of 20 percent, Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated on Jan. 16, 2006.

Johnson Sirleaf’s honors include the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom (2008), the Commander de l’Ordre du Mono (Togo, 1996), the Ralph Bunche International Leadership Award (United States, 1995 and 1996), the Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Speech Award (United States, 1988), and the Grand Commander of the Star of African Redemption (Liberia, 1980).

Event and Ticket Information

Tickets will be available to holders of active Brown IDs, beginning Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, at 6 a.m. One ticket is available per ID. A video simulcast of the event will be presented in the Salomon Center for Teaching. Tickets are not required for the simulcast.

Update: As of Friday afternoon, Sept. 12, all tickets have been distributed.

  • Doors will open at 12:45 and close at 1:45 p.m. No one will be admitted to the hall after 1:45, with or without a ticket.
  • As a standard security measure for visiting dignitaries, bags or backpacks will not be permitted inside the auditorium.
  • No signs or posters will be allowed in the hall.
  • No flash photography will be permitted.
  • Tickets will be available online to holders of Brown IDs beginning Friday, Sept. 12. One ticket per ID.
  • Tickets will be available to the general public beginning Monday morning, Sept. 15. Call (401) 863-2474 or visit the event Web site for information on ticket availability. All tickets must be picked up in advance of the event.

Press Credentials

Limited seating will be reserved for press. Credentials issued by the Office of Media Relations will be required for admission to the reserved press area. Reporters and news organizations may request credentials by e-mail or by phone (401) 863-2478. The Office of Media Relations reserves the right to limit the number of credentials issued to a single news organization. Credentials will be available for pickup at the Office of Media Relations beginning at noon Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008. Deadline for press credential requests is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.