Rajiv Shah

Honorary Degree Citation


Rajiv Shah. Scientist. Economist. Architect of the nation’s effort to promote global health and development. Proud first-generation American. You are administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, sworn in just days before the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. President Barack Obama turned to you for “swift, coordinated, and aggressive” disaster relief, and you rose to the challenge. The president’s faith in you was born of your impressive experience in and deep commitment to addressing basic human needs such as sustainable food production, health care, and nutrition. As a child visiting your parents’ native India, you were troubled by the stark inequities between rich and poor, and your career has focused on redressing that imbalance. A medical doctor and a health economist, you were chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education, and economics at the United States Department of Agriculture. At the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, your vision, leadership, and efforts to forge public-private partnerships led to innovative solutions to global health challenges; you initiated the International Finance Facility for Immunization, which transformed the global system of vaccine financing. You have fostered sustainable agricultural development so that families all over the world might overcome hunger and poverty. Your many contributions to that field include serving as a founder of the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa. Your tireless commitment and engagement at the global, national, and local levels has improved countless lives, especially those of the worldrquote s poorest citizens.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Rajiv Shah, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 22, 2011

Rajiv Shah is administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. A native of Detroit, Shah graduated from the University of Michigan and earned an M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in health economics from the Wharton School. Sworn in  Dec. 31, 2009, Shah has led the U.S. government’s response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, launched a comprehensive suite of reforms to USAID’s business model, co-chaired the State Department’s first-ever review of American diplomacy and development operations, and spearheaded President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future food security initiative. He previously served as undersecretary for research, education, and economics and as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as director of agricultural development in the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


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