Following on the heels of Yale University’s decision to admit former Taliban spokesman Rahmatullah Hashemi, Brown has awarded an honorary doctorate to reclusive North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il.
Administrators said that though the move is sure to provoke controversy, the partnership demonstrates Brown’s commitment to inclusion and its desire to become an internationally recognized institution.
“Yale might try to bring different perspectives to campus by enrolling a mid-level Taliban official, but when Brown undertakes a project, we think big,” said Vice President for International Advancement Ronald Margolin. “All hail the Dear Leader!”
Kim accepted the degree from President Ruth Simmons in a ceremony Saturday on Lincoln Field. Visibly moved by Simmons’ introduction, during which she referred to Kim as “an inspiration to us all” and “a man of unparalleled accomplishment,” the bespectacled, well-coiffed leader took the stage to thunderous student applause.
Wearing a hooded Brown sweatshirt in place of his trademark gray pajamas, Kim tearfully told the crowd through a translator that it was “the happiest day of my life.”
Simmons said the University’s partnership with the isolated North Korean regime will have tremendous benefits for students. During the ceremony, Simmons announced that Kim had already donated $150 million for the construction of the Kim Jong-Il Center for the Study of Chemical and Biological Agents and another $10 million to endow a chair in ballistic missile technology in the Department of Military Science.
“Biological warfare and advanced weapons-delivery systems are fields at the forefront of today’s economy, and these donations will ensure that Brown students are able to take part in cutting-edge research,” Simmons said.
Beginning in 2007, students will also have the opportunity to participate in an exchange program with the Yoduk Reeducation Camp, where they will work alongside their classmates and study North Korean history and Communist ideology.
Director of International Programs Kendall Brostuen said the Brown in North Korea program will “enrich students’ educations by allowing them to encounter a culture far, far different from our own.”
Meanwhile, North Korean cadres will come to Providence to study English and learn how to blend in with a Western population.
Working with Kim’s personal bodyguards, the University implemented extraordinary security measures for Saturday’s ceremony. Several student groups had planned to protest Kim’s presence on campus, but on Friday the students learned that they would have to watch a simulcast version of the ceremony in “an undisclosed location.”
Following the ceremony, Kim took a tour of campus that culminated with a late-night trip to the Gate, where Kim declared the pizza to be “much better than anything in Pyongyang.” Later in the night, Kim was seen socializing with several co-eds at a Phi Kappa Psi party.