Trinity College Honours Mikhail Gorbachev

Posted on: 08 January 2002

Former Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev, received an Honorary Degree from the University of Dublin (Trinity College), on Tuesday 8 January 2002. He was conferred with the degree of a Doctor in Laws (LL.D.) in recognition of his political service and contribution to peace at a special ceremony at the College.

It is appropriate that Trinity honours Mikhail Gorbachev as it is the only university in the State which teaches Russian. It also has a long tradition of teaching Russian politics in its Department of Political Science and a strong research profile in Russian and Eastern European Studies. There are student exchanges between Trinity and Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University.

Gorbachev is the third Russian to be conferred with an honorary degree by the University of Dublin – the composer Shostakovich and cellist Rostropovich are previous recipients.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who served as President of the Soviet Union from 1990-1991, was reared on a farm near Stavropol. He studied in Moscow’s famous State University and after graduating joined the Communist Party. His political insight and intellectual penetration ensured that in 1985 he became the General Secretary of the Polit Bureau of the Central Committee, Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU), a position he held until 1991.

He will be remembered for Perestroika and Glasnost and the ideal of radical and continuing social and economic reform. He was a catalyst in the demolition of the ‘iron curtain’ and the ending the long ‘cold war’ between the super powers.

He was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1990) and is currently President of the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (The Gorbachev Foundation).

Mikhail Gorbachev was invited to accept an Honorary Degree at Trinity College’s Millennium Honorary Degree ceremony in April 2000 along with Nelson Mandela, President Mary McAleese and Sir James Black, but was unable to travel to Ireland at that time.

He will join the ranks of other international political figures conferred with Honorary Degrees at Trinity College in recent times such as Nelson Mandela, former President of the Republic of South Africa, Senator George Mitchell, former Chairman of the Peace Talks in Northern Ireland and Sir William Deane, former Governor-General of Australia.