Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1997-1998 index

Distributed April 9, 1998
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

Jamaican prime minister to receive honorary degree from Brown

Brown University President E. Gordon Gee will confer an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on the Right Honorable P. J. Patterson, prime minister of Jamaica, at 7 p.m. Friday, April 10, 1998, in the Salomon Center for Teaching. Patterson will deliver the keynote address at a regional meeting of Caribbean students.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Right Honorable P. J. Patterson, prime minister of Jamaica and chair of CARICOM, the Caribbean Community and Common Market, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brown University, the first such degree to be conferred by Brown's 17th president, E. Gordon Gee. Patterson will receive the degree prior to his keynote address at the Sixth Annual Northeast Regional Caribbean Students Conference (NeRCSC), at 7 p.m. Friday, April 10, in Room 101 of the Salomon Center for Teaching. The lecture is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Patterson attended the University of the West Indies at Mona and graduated in 1958 with a B.A. (honors) in English. He studied law at the London School of Economics, where he was awarded the Leverhume Scholarship and the Sir Hughes Parry Prize for Excellence in the Law of Contracts. He graduated in 1963 with an LL.B., and was admitted to the Jamaican bar in that year.

He has served the People's National Party in numerous leadership positions including vice president (1969-82), chairman (1983-1992), and president (1992-present).

In 1978, Patterson was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade. His training in law and his skills in human relations were evident as he led international negotiations, not only for his own country and countries of the region, but also for the developing countries of Africa and the Pacific, in forums worldwide.

Patterson received the highest honor Venezuela can award to a foreign official, the Order of Liberator Simon Bolivar First Class, on Sept. 1, 1992. He was also appointed a member of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in December 1992 and has represented Jamaica at numerous international forums and conferences.

Honorary degree citation

Patterson's citation reads as follows:

"Mr. Prime Minister, yours has indeed been a long and distinguished career in the service of your country. It is a record of service that has been marked by outstanding integrity and a very realistic vision. You have had a vision for Jamaica and the larger Caribbean in the postcolonial period. Yours has not been the only vision. There have been many to the right and to the left pressing against yours. But, irrespective of how strongly they pressed, you held firmly to your own. We have greatly admired the contents of your vision, its concern for those that the Jamaican social order has not rewarded fairly, and the practical reforms it contained to ensure that it will perform better in the future. We have also admired the statesmanlike manner in which you have struggled to get Jamaica to join you on this path. You have struggled with a rare combination of personal integrity, talent, political savvy and real devotion to both country and ideals. It is for this outstanding example of how to struggle and lead politically, while retaining the respect of even your staunch opponents, that we celebrate you here this evening. Indeed, the future of Jamaica and the larger Caribbean will require the outstanding qualities that the people of the region and other parts of the world have come to associate with you. Brown joins this chorus of admirers by honoring your achievements with this degree and thus welcoming you into the company of the faculty, students and alumni of our university."