UN Commissioner Sadako Ogata To Be A Commencement Speaker Dennis O'Shea ----------------------------------- Homewood News and Information The United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Sadako Ogata, has accepted interim president Daniel Nathans' invitation to be principal speaker at the university's commencement exercises this spring. Ogata also will be one of four recipients of honorary doctorates at the ceremony, to be held the morning of Wednesday, May 22. Commencement has been moved this year from Thursday, the usual day, to avoid a conflict with a Jewish holiday. Ogata has headed since 1991 one of the United Nations' most respected organizations, responsible for the relief and repatriation of refugees from war and civil strife. Her UNHCR staff, among other assignments worldwide, is the lead international humanitarian agency in Bosnia, working to return nearly 2 million refugees and displaced persons to their homes. The job is enormously complicated, Ogata has said, in part because the homes of many refugees have been destroyed or are now occupied by families from one of the other factions in the war, who themselves have nowhere to go. Ogata was quoted in the Feb. 11 Sunday Times of London as saying that $2.5 billion is needed for housing repairs alone, and that Bosnian economy is operating at 5 percent of pre-war levels. UNHCR also is responsible for refugees from ethnic violence in Rwanda and Burundi. Ogata in January served as U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's personal envoy to the government of Burundi on a mission to defuse tensions there and ensure the safety of more than 150,000 refugees. Ogata's career has been a mixture of the diplomatic and the academic. She has represented the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Myanmar; she also has served as Japan's representative to the commission and in several positions in Japan's mission to the United Nations. From 1980 to 1990, she was a professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, rising in her final years there to dean of the faculty of foreign studies. She has written extensively on diplomatic history and international relations. The other recipients of honorary degrees at commencement will be Norman Hackerman, a former president of Rice University who earned his bachelor's and doctoral degrees at Hopkins; Sister Kathleen Feeley, former president of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland; and William Julius Wilson, a sociologist and authority on poverty and race relations in America. Wilson, who has been on the University of Chicago faculty, recently announced he will move to Harvard later this year. The senior class in the Homewood schools announced late last year that former President George Bush will be the speaker at the undergraduate diploma ceremony the afternoon of May 22. Bush received an honorary doctorate from the university in 1990 during a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Johns Hopkins medicine.
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