Brandeis graduate named prime minister of IcelandReleased on June 06, 2006
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Haarde, who attended Brandeis as a Wien Scholar, has served as the minister for foreign affairs for the last year and has been an influential member of Iceland’s Parliament for nearly two decades. He earlier served as the minister of finance for seven years. Haarde chairs the Independence Party.
Haarde was named to the post of prime minister following Monday night’s resignation of Halldor Asgrimsson.
Although he will be unable to attend the ceremony because of the demands of his new position, Haarde will be honored with a Brandeis Alumni Achievement Award on Friday, the second recipient of a Wien International Scholarship to receive the award in the last three years. In 2003, the Alumni Achievement Award went to Osman Faruk Logoglu '63, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States.
The Alumni Achievement Award honors Brandeis graduates who have made distinguished contributions to their professions or fields of endeavor and is the highest form of University recognition bestowed exclusively on alumni.
Haarde arrived in the United States in the fall of 1971 as a Wien Scholar, the beneficiary of the pioneering scholarship program that, to this day, seeks to further international understanding by offering foreign students a chance to study at Brandeis. Although he had visited Europe, Haarde had never been on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
"When I first got to Brandeis, it took time to adjust to a different society and a different language," Haarde remembered in an interview from his office. "I quickly made friends, both Americans and the foreign student community. I grew accustomed to studying and thinking in a different language; after awhile, I started to dream in English."
He roomed with a student from Japan in his first year, and also grew close with Wien Scholars from Australia, Africa, and South America. Haarde’s rich Brandeis experiences – both in and out of the classroom – changed the course of his life.
"If I had stayed in Iceland, I would have likely gone to law school," Haarde said. "When I decided to go abroad, my eyes were opened and I realized that there were so many other opportunities out there."
Haarde graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics then went on to earn two master’s degrees – in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University and in economics from the University of Minnesota. Haarde chairs the International Advisory Board of the Rosenberg Institute of Global Finance at Brandeis.
Founded in 1958 by Lawrence A. and Mae Wien, the Wien International Scholarship is designed to further international understanding, provide foreign students with an opportunity to study in the United States, and enrich the intellectual and cultural life of Brandeis.
Wien Scholars from more than 100 countries worldwide have attended Brandeis in the last 48 years. Wien Scholars have gone on to serve as the foreign minister of Slovenia, the minister of finance in Kenya, and the first woman member of the Japanese Diet.