23 May 2008, Dhaka. BRAC Founder and Chairperson, Fazle Hasan Abed, was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Columbia University in the United States for his comprehensive approach to fighting poverty, the powerful model of social change that he has introduced and his abiding commitment to serving the poorest and most vulnerable. Abed was conferred his degree by Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, at its 254th commencement ceremony, held on Wednesday, 21 May in New York.
“One of the world’s most effective humanitarians, you have transformed the lives of millions through the work of your organization, BRAC. Your vision is audacious, the scale of your work inspires awe and the results you have achieved are a stunning example to the world of our potential to successfully fight poverty and save lives. You have been recognized by many organizations for your commitment to improving life on this planet; we are honored to acknowledge you again today.” reads his citation.
Columbia, one of the world's leading universities and a member of the Ivy League, was founded in 1754, making the University the fifth oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
Abed founded BRAC in 1972 to help rehabilitate returning refuges from India to newly independent Bangladesh. Later, BRAC changed its focus to long-term community development. Today, BRAC is the largest non-governmental organisation in the world and its programmes in education, health, economic and social development and human rights and legal services cover a population in excess of 100 million. In addition to numerous national and international awards, Abed was previously awarded degrees of Doctor of Laws by Queen’s University in Canada, Doctor in Education by the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and Doctor of Humane Letters by Yale University in the United States in recognition of his work with BRAC.