I have the honor to present Haraldur Bessason, President of the University of Akureyri, Iceland.
Haraldur Bessason was educated at the University of Iceland, where he received his Cand. Phil. in 1952, and his Cand. Mag. in 1956. Upon graduation, he was Deputy Director of the Icelandic State Broadcasting Services for a brief period. He was then appointed Head and Chair of the Department of Icelandic Language and Literature at The University of Manitoba, a position he held for thirty-one years. In 1987, he was appointed President of the newly-established University of Akureyri.
While at The University of Manitoba, Haraldur Bessason published a number of essays, articles, and reviews in North American and European journals on a variety of topics, including Scandinavian mythology, saga literature, the Eddas, and Icelandic-Canadian language and literature. He was Associate Editor of Scandinavian Studies for several years and co-editor of the University of Manitoba Icelandic Studies Series, in which he published a translation and co-edited a collection of articles. He is former President of the Mid-West Modem Language Association (Germanic Section) and of the Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota.
Haraldur Bessason's role as an educator and academic leader was matched by his active participation within the wider community. He was the co-editor of the Timarit of the Icelandic National League, and he also served on the boards of Mosaic, the Icelandic-Canadian Magazine, and was an editor of Logberg-Heimiskringla. In addition, he has served as member of the Icelandic Festival Committee in various capacities, including President, and been Secretary and Vice President of the Icelandic National League. In recognition of his community outreach activities, he was given the Outreach Award by The University of Manitoba, and the city of Winnipeg has made him an honorary citizen. In 1970, Haraldur Bessason received the Icelandic Order of the Falcon for outstanding work for the advancement of Icelandic cultural interest in North America.
Haraldur Bessason's career of dedicated service to academia and the community both underscored the unique relationship between these two spheres and served continuously to strengthen their ties.
Mr. Chancellor, it is an honor and privilege for me to ask in the name of the Senate of The University of Manitoba, that you confer upon Haraldur Bessason the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba