The American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP) proudly announces the conferral of Doctor Honoris Causa to His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, the first elected president of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste and former leader of its independence movement.
The conferral was made on May 6, 2023, on the occasion of AUPP’s graduation ceremony students.
The independence of Timor Leste is one of the most significant international events of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It was the conclusion of a 25-year struggle to remove foreign occupation from their land. Due to his leadership position in the freedom movement for Timor Leste, H.E. Xanana Gusmao was arrested, spending seven years in Indonesian prisons.
However, despite his imprisonment, Gusmao pursued a path toward reconciliation with Indonesia and a peaceful resolution for the internationally mediated conflict. After independence, he became the first elected president of Timor Leste, serving between 2002 and 2007, and later as prime minister, between 2007 and 2015.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Raymond Leos, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at AUPP noted: “We admire his life-long effort for the liberation of the people in Timor Leste and are inspired by his peacebuilding and conciliation efforts after independence. His exemplary dedication to human liberty and self-determination is an inspiration to people around the world including our student body”.
Dr. Leos added that AUPP’s goal is to provide the young people of Cambodia with an example of inspirational leadership, a person who has persevered and endured despite injustices and other vicissitudes. It is believed that HE Xanana Gusmao is an example of the difficult endeavor of peaceful transition to post-conflict reconstruction, something that Cambodians can surely admire.
In addition to this honorary doctorate award from AUPP, H.E. Gusmao also received several other honorary doctorates, namely from the universities of Coimbra, Porto and Lusíada (Portugal), Madeira, Charles Darwin and Vitoria (Australia), Suncheon (South Korea), Takushoku (Japan). He was also awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1999, the Sydney Peace Prize in 2000 and the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (South Korea) in the same year.
AUPP seeks to provide students in Cambodia with international-level education. It offers Bachelor programs in Information Technology Management, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Law, Business and Global Affairs. Its mission is to prepare students for global leadership and service and to train the next generation of professionals that can tackle the complex issues of a globalized world.
AUPP offers single and dual degree programs in partnership with the University of Arizona and Fort Hays State University in the United States. Over the past ten years, AUPP has provided accredited programs in English with an international faculty. Its graduates have reached professional positions in a myriad of fields across the region. Furthermore, many of them have also pursued post-graduate education in the US, Australia, Europe, China and Japan.
This year there are over one hundred graduates in the Bachelor and Master programs majoring in Global Affair, Architecture, Business, Civil Engineering, and Law.