In a meeting on 12 December 2017, the board decided to award an honorary doctorate (doctor honoris causa) to the following persons:
- Dr Agnes Aboum, Kenya
- Emeritus Professor Barbara Parfitt, UK
- Professor Abye Tasse, Ethiopia/France
The honorary doctorates will mark three different anniversaries at VID in 2018:
- 175th anniversary of the School of Mission and Theology (established in 1843), Stavanger, 9–11 November 2018
- 100th anniversary of the nursing education programme at Haraldsplass Deaconess University College (established in 1918), 3 May 2018
- 50th anniversary of the social work education programme at Diakonhjemmet University College (established in 1968), 11–12 October 2018
VID may award honorary doctorates in line with Section 3-2 (5) of the Act relating to universities and university colleges: (5) An institution that has a right to award doctorates or corresponding degrees may in the same fields award honorary doctorates (doctor honoris causa) for important scientific or artistic contributions or outstanding work for the benefit of science or art.
By awarding honorary doctorates, VID wishes to highlight its disciplines and VID as a scientific, diaconal and internationally oriented institution.
Prior to awarding the honorary doctorates, the celebrating faculty units were asked to nominate candidates. The nominations state the following about the candidates:
Dr Agnes Aboum (nominated by the Centre of Mission and Global Studies and the Faculty of Theology, Diaconia and Leadership Studies, Stavanger, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the School of Mission and Theology)
Dr Agnes Aboum from Kenya is a candidate who scores high on many expectancy barometers: she has been active in church organizations in many parts of Africa over a long period of time, and holds a doctorate within the School of Mission and Theology’s core academic area of missiology. Her doctorate has a diaconal perspective, with a focus on the role of NGOs in development work, and she has a clear focus on management and leadership through TAABCO, a consultancy firm that operates in the field of skills enhancement for civil society.
Agnes Aboum studied at the University of Nairobi. As a result of political persecution, she later travelled to Sweden, where she took her doctorate at Uppsala University. She then returned to Sudan and Zimbabwe, where she was involved in the refugee efforts of the World Council of Churches (WCC). In 1989, she went home to Kenya, where she served a short prison sentence as a result of her political work. She then once again became involved in the Anglican Church’s development work. In 1999, Aboum was elected president of the African branch of WCC, and in 2013 was the first female and first African to be elected to chair the WCC.
She represents the School of Mission and Theology and VID’s academic profile brilliantly through her academic work, with a focus on mission and development work. Her work also undertakes a practical approach to diaconia and management. Through key positions in several ecclesiastical organizations, Aboum has shown how academic knowledge can be translated into practical action with a clear theological and diaconal approach.
Professor Barbara Parfitt (nominated by the Faculty of Health Studies, Bergen, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the nursing education programme at Haraldsplass
Throughout her career, Professor Barbara Parfitt (…) has been internationally oriented and impassioned, and has been, and still is, committed to cooperation, development and innovation in good health care for groups and countries with a poor level of health care. Her professional involvement is deeply motivated by her Christian faith. One of the highlights of her efforts is her work to build a brand new and modern nursing education programme in Bangladesh in collaboration with Professor Mohammed Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and head of Grameen Bank, which is based on the social business model and not donations or aid. This programme is like a beacon in Bangladesh, in terms of knowledge, attitudes and skills.
Professor Parfitt has participated in many major international research and development projects in collaboration with WHO and other organizations. She has been involved in R&D projects in countries such as Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, South Africa and Bangladesh. She is also a highly prized lecturer and has published work on topics such as global health, primary health care and gender and health. She has been and continues to be concerned with how to solve global and cultural challenges with a view to securing the best possible health for groups and populations. Through international scientific and political networks, Professor Barbara Parfitt has contributed to innovation and knowledge development that has given the world new knowledge and improved practices.
Abye Tasse (nominated by the Faculty of Social Studies, Oslo, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the social work education programme at Diakonhjemmet)
Professor Abye Tasse is from Ethiopia and a French citizen. Abye Tasse's current position is adviser to the Minister for Education and Research and to the President of the University of the Comoros, and he also holds a position as associate researcher at the Centre for African Studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Social de Paris, France. Professor Tasse has held a number of prestigious and important positions, such as President of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) in the period 2004–2008. He has been particularly concerned with international issues and education in social work.
Abye Tasse had to flee Ethiopia because of his political involvement and arrived in France as an asylum seeker in 1979. Shortly thereafter, he was given the status of refugee, followed by French citizenship 20 years later. Just after arriving in France, he was given the opportunity to apply for a place on an education programme for refugees, and through hard work and various scholarships and distinctions, he completed his education with a PhD in which the topic of research was an analysis of Ethiopian migration to France and the USA. In the early 2000s, he was invited back to Ethiopia, and in the period 2004–2015 built up both academic and management competence for re-establishment and growth in social work education in Ethiopia, Mauritania and the Comoros.
Through strategic wisdom and use of his own international network of highly qualified social workers and their own resources and positions in the university sector, Abye Tasse has developed both academic and management competence for re-establishment and growth in social work education. His work is an example of how social work is a global concept that needs to be shaped locally, and how networks and resources can be linked in untraditional ways to create growth.