GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg presented His Majesty Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, with an honorary doctorate of law before a crowded Marvin Center Ballroom at Convocation Thursday.
Addressing the crowd, Mohammed said he hopes to enhance the longstanding Moroccan-American relationship, which has found a common bond in “liberty, justice and solidarity.”
“Let us work together to strengthen democracies,” he said.
He spoke about the direction of the new millennium, and the state of transition that he said comes with it. He said he hopes exclusion of nations and discrimination against women and other groups will end soon.
These goals can be reached by “fruitful dialogue between nations,” he said.
Mohammed VI took the throne on July 30, 1999 after his father, King Hassan II, died a week earlier.
Trachtenberg responded to the king’s address by saying a common Arabic expression, which means “if God wants.”
GW has a special relationship with Morocco’s Al-Akhawayn University and the University wanted to honor the country’s king, Trachtenberg said.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for us to reinforce our standing commitment with Morocco,” Trachtenberg said.
The universities established an exchange program after Trachtenberg visited Morocco about two years ago.
The program sends GW professors and students to Morocco to Al-Khawayn, where classes are taught in English. In addition, Moroccan students and professors study at GW.
“This is the high point of a working relationship between (GW and Al-Akhawayn, a Moroccan university) that began some two years ago,” Trachtenberg said in his introduction to Mohammed VI.
Nine GW students have been awarded scholarships to travel to Morocco, Trachtenberg said in his speech.
Two Colonial Cabinet members will travel to Morocco for a trip tentatively scheduled during winter break, Trachtenberg said after the ceremony.
“This is a reward for working extra hard for the University,” Trachtenberg said.
The two students will be selected in late August, Trachtenberg said.
Mohammed VI visited President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright June 20 before attending the largest state dinner of the Clinton administration.
In their Convocation greetings, Lilien Robinson, chair of the Art Department and David Burt, president of the Student Association, mentioned the international atmosphere that GW strives to bring to its students.
Robinson discussed the wide-ranging background of the faculty, while Burt mentioned the students who benefit from the D.C. environment.
Trachtenberg called Convocation a “family event,” mentioning Convocation in 1957, when GW awarded an honorary degree to Mohammed V.
Trachtenberg said the king’s speech was both “optimistic and promising.”
“It was a perfect speech for a new king and young man who is looking forward to the future,” Trachtenberg said.