Herbert Kaiser, Class of 1949, and
Joy Sundgaard Kaiser, Class of 1951
Honorary Degree Citation


Joy and Herb Kaiser, after an active career in the Foreign Service, you jointly dedicated your lives to creating opportunities for medical education for Black South Africans, founding and building a stunningly successful philanthropic organization that has literally created a new generation of healers for that nation.

You were both undergraduate history majors at Swarthmore, Herb graduating in 1949 and Joy in 1951.

After Herb's postgraduate study at the Littauer School of Public Administration at Harvard, you entered a 30-year career in the Foreign Service, which took you both from Bucharest, where Herb served as deputy chief of the embassy; to Zagreb, where he served as consul general; to Pretoria, where he served as alternate director of the Office of Southern African Affairs; and back to Warsaw, Vienna, and Belgrade.

In that work, you combined commitment to your own nation with informed and sensitive embrace of the needs of others, setting a model of diplomacy reflective of the core values of your Swarthmore experience.

After retirement from the Foreign Service, you jointly conceived an astonishing vision - a nonprofit organization that would fund medical education for South African Blacks - and set out to make that vision a reality. You named the organization MESAB - Medical Education for South African Blacks - and through brilliant intellectual, economic, and political entrepreneurship built that organization into one that has to date supported the medical education of nearly 3,000 black midwives, nurses, technicians, physiotherapists, optometrists, pharmacists, dentists, and physicians.

Your achievement represents a virtual revolution in the entry of black South Africans into the health care profession and a contribution of extraordinary proportion to the number of health care workers available to serve a nation, currently so devastatingly plagued by poverty and AIDS.

You have, in addition, successfully encouraged South African medical schools to increase their commitment to students of color; pioneered a mentoring program, which provides entering students with an invaluable community of support; sponsored important collaboration between American and South African health professionals; and inspired a range of donors - individuals, foundations, and corporations - to lend grassroots support, as you have, to building the new South Africa.

In 1991, your magnificent achievements were recognized by the John W. Gardner Leadership Award and, in 1995, by dual honorary doctorates from the Medical University of South Africa.

Closer to home, you have been loyal alumni, and we are proud that your son Timothy is a graduate of the lass of 1976.

Joy and Herb Kaiser, your unique vision and tireless efforts have brought to a nation still divided by the aftermath of apartheid and deeply embattled in the struggle against poverty and disease, a workforce of hope. You have demonstrated that historically entrenched racial and economic barriers can be overcome and that daring humanistic dreams can transform realities.

We are honored that values nurtured here infuse your dreams and that skills honed here have enabled you to realize them.

Upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon each of you the degree of doctor of science.

Return to Joy Kaiser's Remarks
Return to Herbert Kaiser's Remarks


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