Kul Chandra Gautam ’72, Doctor of Humane Letters

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The distinguished diplomat received an honorary degree from Dartmouth during commencement.

Kul Chandra Gautam

(Photo by Herb Swanson)


KUL GAUTAM, as a distinguished diplomat, development professional, and human rights activist, you have proven yourself to be the world’s ultimate citizen-leader, fighting poverty and injustice, fiercely advocating for peace, and significantly improving the welfare of children worldwide.

Born in 1949 in a small village in Nepal, you learned English, in part, by playing Scrabble with Peace Corps volunteers. When one of those volunteers, a Dartmouth ’65 named Zachary Hahn, inspired your dream of studying at Dartmouth, you made that dream a reality.

An exceptionally gifted student, you became the first Nepali ever to be admitted to the College, arriving in Hanover in 1968. You graduated just three years later with a degree in international relations that would serve as the foundation for your life’s work.

You began your career as a program officer at UNICEF in 1973, rising to become both deputy executive director of UNICEF and assistant secretary general of the United Nations in the year 2000. In your 35 years with the organization, you not only played a central role in providing life-saving vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable children, but increased access to education for girls and laid the groundwork for today’s Sustainable Development Goals.

True to your roots, you gave back to your home country as special adviser to the prime minister of Nepal on international affairs and have continued to actively promote human rights, socioeconomic development, democracy, and good governance in Nepal’s civil society.

For your belief in a hopeful future – particularly for the children of the world—and for your lifelong commitment to making that future possible as a humanitarian of the highest order, it is our privilege to award you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

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