Students and faculty at Loyola Marymount University met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this month when he came to campus to accept an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. The degree conferral was sponsored by the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and Asia Media International, and took place on Wednesday, April 6.
The honorary degree recognized Ban’s lifelong commitment to the global common good, first as a diplomat in his native South Korea, and later as head of the United Nations, a role he has served since 2007.
In his remarks at the degree conferral, Ban lauded the university’s commitment to developing a spirit of global citizenship among its students and faculty – including our newly established World Policy Institute at LMU and Asia Media International, a student-run news outlet that covers Asian news, politics, and culture.
He also urged students to use a global imagination as they begin their professional lives. “Whatever path you choose, the world needs you to show allegiance not just to your immediate family, community or nation, but to the wider global community,” he said.
Ban received an introduction from his longtime friend, Tom Plate, the Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Studies and director of Asia Media International. Plate and Ban first met when Ban was an official in the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Plate was a journalist covering East Asia.
Following the ceremony, Plate arranged for a select group of LMU students and faculty to meet Ban for a conversation in which Ban fielded questions on foreign policy and his role at the U.N.
For Lamiya Shabbir ’17, who is from Pakistan, meeting Ban was an honor. “Talking to him about my country and people affected by terrorism was the highlight of the day for me,” she said. “What inspired me most was how passionate he is about world peace.” Shabbir is a political science major and a staff writer at Asia Media.
Plate said it was characteristic of Ban’s generosity that he was willing to meet and engage LMU students. “I always encourage my students to consider international public service, whether the foreign service or international NGOs,” Plate said. “It’s not the path to riches but it’s the path to rich life. And Ban made the case so clearly.”