John Hume, Northern Ireland's leading Catholic politician and a key figure in that country's peace negotiations, has accepted an invitation to teach at Boston College as a visiting professor in the History Department, beginning in September.
Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labor Party and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, is expected to take part in a seminar on contemporary Irish history during the fall 1996 and 1997 semesters. While his time on campus would be limited by other commitments, University administrators said Hume's presence and his insight into the Northern Irish conflict would enrich the Boston College community.
"It is a great honor for Boston College to welcome to its faculty one of the truly admirable public figures of our era," said Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties William B. Neenan, SJ. "John Hume is a dear friend of Boston College who, as an honorary degree recipient, has earned the highest distinction from the University."
"We are delighted to have someone of his ability, deep knowledge and practical experience," said Prof. James Cronin, the History Department chairman. "He will add to the strength of our Irish history program, already among the strongest in North America."
Hume received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and addressed the graduates at the 1995 Commencement Exercises. He has visited Boston College frequently, most recently in March, when he offered remarks on the Northern Irish peace process to an audience in Devlin Hall and signed copies of his book A New Ireland.
A native of Londonderry whose educational background was in history, Hume began his professional life as a teacher at St. Columb's College. Shortly after entering politics in 1968, he gave up his teaching career to participate in the Northern Irish civil rights movement. He has headed the SDLP, which represents a majority of Northern Ireland's estimated 600,000 Catholics, since 1979, and is a member of both the British Parliament and the European Parliament.
Hume became known for his efforts to seek non-violent, rational solutions to the Northern Ireland problem. His secret meetings with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams were credited by many as helping initiate the country's peace process in 1994. Although negotiations have been marred by violence and political disagreements this year, Hume has continued to work behind the scenes in the hopes of reaching a settlement.
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