Tuesday May 3, 2011

An Honorary Degree

The University will bestow an honorary degree upon the creator of the first Arab university in Israel during commencement May 8.

The University of Dayton will bestow an honorary degree on the creator of the first Arab university in Israel.

Archbishop Elias Chacour of the arch-eparchy of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and Galilee of the Melkite Catholic Church, an Eastern Byzantine Church in communion with Rome, will receive his honorary degree at the University's undergraduate commencement, which begins at 9:45 a.m. Sunday, May 8.

Chacour has spent the last four decades starting new schools welcoming students and teachers from all faiths. His Mar Elias Educational Institutions includes a kindergarten, high school, technical college, teacher training center and a school for gifted students. It embraces students and faculty from Christian, Muslim, Druze and Jewish traditions who study and teach together as one community of learning and service. The institutions currently enroll more than 4,000 students and employ 290 faculty. In 2003, Chacour established Mar Elias University, the first Arab university in Israel.

Chacour, a Christian born in Palestine who holds Israeli citizenship, also is the author of two books, Blood Brothers about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and We Belong to the Land: The Story of a Palestinian Israeli Who Lives for Peace & Reconciliation. 

"A recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Dayton must exemplify 'a selfless spirit of service' dedicated to the common good of humanity," said Tony Saliba, dean of the University of Dayton School of Engineering. "Father Elias Chacour embodies that spirit of the Marianist tradition so perfectly. He is a man who, when faced with devastating adversity, chose to take to heart the words of the Man of Galilee. He chose to be a man of peace and reconciliation. He realized the future of all of God's children in the Holy Land would depend on the education of the young in the ways of peace, reconciliation, respect and justice."

Chacour's accolades include the World Methodist Peace Award, which goes to a person who persevered through hardship and threats of physical harm to create initiatives striving for peace, the Niwano Peace Award, which honors a person devoted to interreligious cooperation in the cause of peace, France's Legion of Honor, the highest decoration bestowed by the nation, and the Marcel Rudloff Peace and Tolerance Award.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.

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