Honorary doctorate from PLU
His Majesty continued his visit to the US on Saturday at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Washington. The King received an honorary doctorate from the university, which has close ties to Norway.
This is not the first time that the Norwegian Royal Family has paid a visit to PLU. King Harald was here 20 years ago together with Queen Sonja, and King Olav visited the university in 1975. The Rune Stones sculpture by Tom Torrens was originally erected on campus in commemoration of King Olav’s visit, and several inscriptions have been added to mark subsequent visits by various guests from Norway. President of PLU Thomas Krise accompanied King Harald to the sculpture, which is now inscribed with yet another Royal visit.
PLU has a large percentage of exchange students from Norway and offers a study programme in Norwegian language and literature. King Harald had the opportunity to meet Norwegian students as well as US students studying Norwegian during his visit today.
PLU celebrates its anniversary
Pacific Lutheran University was established by Norwegian immigrants in 1890, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. King Harald attended the anniversary luncheon yesterday, and in his speech later in the day he emphasised the significance of education to the Norwegian pioneers – and the important role this university has come to play over the years:
- "Education was a priority for these immigrants. Starting with very little, they first built their farmhouses, then their church, and then a school. Over the decades, this university has grown to become a proud and acclaimed institution— noted for its commitment to diversity, justice and sustainability, in addition to academic excellence. (…) The PLU of today is a testament to the hard work and core values of these first Norwegian immigrants (…).”
Spoke to the students
Graduating students gathered in the Tacoma Dome for the formal commencement ceremony to mark the end of their academic studies. King Harald spoke to the students about the importance of the education they have just completed, and he congratulated them on this momentous day:
- “For all of you who are now graduating— today marks the end of a voyage. Yet it is also the beginning of another exciting journey. After all your hard work, you now have your diplomas in your hand. You have reached your first major destination, and for that I would like to congratulate each and every one of you. (…)
- You have the power to make a difference. The future belongs to you – take good care of it!”
In addition, King Harald received a Doctor of Laws – jure dignitatis – during the ceremony in the Tacoma Dome. The King expressed his gratitude for the recognition, and said somewhat tongue-in-cheek that he now feels he is on equal footing with the Queen, who received an honorary doctorate during her visit 20 years ago:
- “When the Queen and I visited PLU 20 years ago, she received an honorary doctorate – of which I have been informed quite a few times. I am therefore particularly proud to have been awarded an Honorary Doctorate myself. Finally, the Queen and I are equal – at least on your campus.
- Thank you very much for this great honour.”