NOTRE DAME, Indiana - The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), James Morris, today received a Doctorate of Laws honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame that recognized years of "outstanding service to the world community."
Morris, who oversees the world's largest humanitarian organization which fed 113 million poor people last year, was one of 13 distinguished figures from a wide range of fields to receive an honorary degree during Notre Dame's commencement ceremonies.
"I am profoundly honored to receive this degree from Notre Dame, an institution that has contributed so much to the world, especially for the most vulnerable," Morris said. "It is impossible to describe what it means to become a part of the Notre Dame family and tradition. The spirit and values of Notre Dame have inspired millions around the globe to serve, to be generous, to care and be helpful."
"In a place that proudly envisages the world as its classroom, we look toward the younger generation to help us win the fight against global hunger - a scourge that claims a child's life every five seconds and is one of the biggest single impediments to development in poor countries," Morris added. "We need the ideas, energy and commitment of tomorrow's leaders to help reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015. In a world where food is cheap and abundant, it is a sin for even a single child to die of hunger."
Morris noted that apart from progress made in China, the number of hungry people has actually risen by nearly 60 million people since 1992. At the same time, the volume of food aid worldwide has plummeted, from 15 million tons in 1999 to 7.5 million tons last year.
Morris took over the helm of World Food Program in April 2002. A proud native of the Hoosier heartland, he began his career in Indianapolis city government, primarily as chief of staff for then-Mayor Richard Lugar. He joined Lilly Endowment Inc. in 1973 as director of community development, and ultimately became president of what is one of the world's largest charitable foundations. In addition to business leadership, Morris always set aside time for volunteer activities, serving at top levels of the US Olympic Committee and the American Red Cross, as well as chairman of the Board of Trustees for Indiana University.
Morris earned his BA in Political Science from Indiana University in 1965 and an MBA from Butler University in 1970. He and his wife Jacqueline have been married for 40 years, and have three children and six grandchildren.
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