Nancy Pelosi receives doctorate four years after visit to Magee College
The Speaker Emerita of the U.S House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has received an Honorary Doctorate from Ulster University.
The degree was conferred upon her by the Chancellor of Ulster University, Dr. Colin Davidson, at a ceremony in Washington DC, attended by political and civic representatives from Ireland and the United States.
Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University, Professor Paul Bartholomew commented: “Ulster University was honoured to host the Speaker Emerita and a Congressional delegation on our Derry~Londonderry campus in April 2019 during a trip to Northern Ireland.
"On that visit, the Speaker Emerita Pelosi recognised the strong bond between the United States of America and Northern Ireland, and the importance of people, reconciliation and hope for the future.
"As we mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, it is fitting that we celebrate the Speaker Emerita as a pioneering leader whose passion for and commitment to peace building has and will continue to inspire all of those continuing this important work in Northern Ireland and across the world.”
“Ulster University is an esteemed academic institution, earning the respect of the world and producing many outstanding alumni,” Speaker Emerita Dr Nancy Pelosi said. “Ulster stands as a pillar of the peace of the Good Friday Agreement: moulding the minds of many young people who have never known the bloody conflict, who as young leaders are helping build a brighter future.”
“It is my privilege to join in welcoming Ulster to our Nation’s capital and, with great pride and humility, accept an Honorary Doctorate,” Speaker Emerita Pelosi continued.
“For a quarter-century, the Good Friday Agreement has enabled the transformation of Northern Ireland and served as a beacon of hope to all freedom-loving people.
"It has been my honor to work alongside Chairman Richard Neal to preserve the promise of the Agreement for Northern Ireland, for the Irish Republic and for the world – now and for decades to come.”
During a visit to Derry in 2019 Ms. Pelosi said the fall-out from the United Kingdom’s decision to ‘Brexit’ the European Union must not be allowed to destabilise the peace process in Ireland and Britain.
Her colleague Richard Neal, chairman of the Friends of Ireland in Congress, received an honorary degree at Magee.
She was also accompanied to Derry by the Pennsylvanian Democrat Brendan Boyle, whose father was born in Glencolumbkille.
Speaking in the Oireachtas on the 100th anniversary of the First Dáil, during that same visit in 2019, she paid tribute to John Hume and Martin McGuinness.
She spoke of how Mr. Hume had been a welcome guest in her California home from the 1980s onwards and how Mr. McGuinness had been a regular visitor to her offices at the US Capital over the years.
"Paul and I and our five children were honoured to welcome [John Hume] to our home in San Francisco in the late 1980s.
"He told us that night: 'As we bring down the walls in Belfast we must also bring down the walls in our hearts if we are going to have peace.'
"We were happy to welcome him to our home and with the bravery of our late friend, the extraordinary Martin McGuinness, who I was pleased to welcome to the House of Representatives when I was the top democrat on the US House Committee on Appropriations which had control over funding for the International Fund for Ireland. Martin was a regular visitor,” she said.
She received a standing ovation from TDs and Senators when she ended her address with a quotation from the late Derry poet and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney's 'The Cure at Troy', which the former US President Bill Clinton also quoted during his first visit to Derry 25 years ago.
In 2006, following Congressional midterm elections of 2006, Ms. Pelosi became the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives in US History. This made her the third most powerful politician in the US.
She played a major role in the progression of several landmark pieces of legislation in the US. These have included: the Dodd-Frank Act which regulated the financial markets after the crash of 2008; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; the Affordable Care Act of 2010; and the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which propelled America out of the COVID pandemic.
Chancellor of Ulster University, Dr Colin Davidson said: “The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Emerita of the US House of Representatives, has been recognised and honoured by Ulster University for the outstanding contribution she has made to her country as a steadfast ally in the promotion of human rights and a relentless advocate in the struggle to end discrimination.
“Her work to honour the dignity and worth of every human being through the promotion of rights and the protection of people has been instrumental in developing inclusive and diverse schools and workplaces that strengthen communities and help people to flourish.”
UU said the conferment of the honour, which is the highest award a university can bestow, recognises the remarkable contribution Speaker Emerita Pelosi has made to her country through the promotion of human rights and protection of people, and her unwavering support for peace making.
It comes as UU marks the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement through a programme of events in NI and the US, recognising the importance of sustaining peace and inspiring the next generation of leaders who will shape Northern Ireland’s future.