Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 11, 2007

Man Behind Hotel Rwanda Story to Receive Honorary Degree

Paul Rusesabagina, the former hotel manager who saved more than 1,200 people from slaughter during the Rwandan genocide and inspired the film Hotel Rwanda, will receive an honorary degree from the University of Guelph June 12.

Rusesabagina is among 10 renowned “Global Citizens” who will be recognized with honorary degrees during Guelph’s second annual thematic convocation being held this week.

In addition, he will take part in the annual President’s Dialogue June 13 at 10 a.m. in Rozanski Hall. He will join honorary degree recipients Sally Armstrong, Lloyd Axworthy, Louise Fréchette, Peter Hannam and Craig Kielburger and Pamela Wallin for a stimulating panel discussion on Canada’s role as a global citizen.

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Rusesabagina used his influence and connections as temporary manager of the Mille Collines hotel to shelter about 1,200 people to prevent them from being slaughtered by the militia. His story became the basis of the 2004 Academy Award-nominated film Hotel Rwanda.

In 2005, he set up the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation to help children and women affected by genocide in Rwanda and sub-Saharan African nations. He has received many international honours and awards, including the Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity; the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award; the Enduring Spirit Recognition from Amnesty International; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Rusesabagina is receiving his honorary degree during the ceremony for the College of Management and Economics and will address the graduating class of about 250. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Gryphon Dome.

Prof. Marion Joppe, director of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, said the school is honoured that Rusesabagina will be attending the convocation. "None of us know how we will react when faced with an extraordinary situation that requires great courage and a steadfast belief in basic human principles,” she said. “Paul Rusesabagina is an inspiration to all of us. May we demonstrate the same unwavering determination when called upon.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

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