Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1995-1996 index

Distributed May 9, 1996
Contact: Tracie Sweeney

Commencement 1996

The Aga Khan will deliver baccalaureate address Sunday, May 26

The Aga Khan, leader of the Ismaili Muslims, will address the Class of 1996 at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in the Meeting House of the First Baptist in America. The baccalaureate service will be simulcast to a large-format video screen set up on The College Green for parents and guests of the graduates.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- His Highness the Aga Khan, leader of the world's Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, will present this year's baccalaureate address at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, in the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America. Because of limited seating, only graduating seniors will be admitted. However, the service will be telecast on a large video screen on The College Green so that parents, friends and guests may listen and watch. If it rains, the screen will be set up in Meehan Auditorium on Hope Street.

The baccalaureate traditionally is preached the Sunday before Commencement. It was customary for the president of the University to deliver the sermon until Henry Wriston, the first Brown president who was not a Baptist minister, assumed office in 1937. After that, guest speakers were invited.

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan became the 49th hereditary imam, or leader, of the Ismailis in July 1957 at the age of 20. He spent his early childhood in Kenya, attended school in Switzerland and graduated in 1959 with honors from Harvard University with a degree in Islamic history. His son Prince Rahim graduated from Brown in 1995.

The Aga Khan has taken his responsibilities beyond interpretation of matters of faith to include social, economic and cultural development through the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Most AKDN social activities take place in East Africa, South Asia and Central Asia through the Aga Khan Foundation, Aga Khan University, Aga Khan Health Services, Aga Khan Education Services and Aga Khan Housing Boards. Economic activities are carried out by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and financial service companies, mainly in Asia and Africa. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture coordinates cultural activities. Under its aegis are the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and the Historic Cities Support Programme.

In recent years, the AKDN has disbursed an annual average of $100 million for non-profit activities. The funds are provided by the imam and the Ismaili community and by international and local donor agencies.