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Nigerian Pastor and Imam Receive Honorary Degrees at UMass Boston’s 44th Commencement for their Work on Peace

James Wuye and Muhammad Ashafa Cofounded Interfaith Mediation Centre
By Crystal Bozek
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(Boston, USA, May 30, 2012) – Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa, cofounders of the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Nigeria, will receive honorary doctor of laws degrees at the University of Massachusetts Boston's 44th commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 1, 2012.

Not long ago, Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa would never have dreamed of speaking to each other, let alone working together for peace. Both the imam and the pastor were drawn into religious conflict in Kaduna, Nigeria, and both suffered losses that they wished to avenge – on each other.

Over time and through prayer, the two put aside their differences and began to work together to bridge the divide between their communities, creating the Interfaith Mediation Centre, a religious grassroots organization that has successfully mediated conflicts between Christians and Muslims throughout Nigeria. Their methods have been studied at the U.S. Institute of Peace at Harvard University, as well as at UMass Boston.

Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, a former United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General and former president of the UN Security Council, will deliver the principal address at commencement. Chowdhury will receive a Chancellor's Medal for Global Leadership for Peace.

They will be joined by honorary degree recipients Jackie Jenkins-Scott, president of Wheelock College; and philanthropist and advocate for the blind Carla Lynton, who will also accept a degree on behalf of her husband Ernest Lynton, who is being honored posthumously for his service to higher education in Massachusetts.

More than 3,800 graduates and their families are expected to fill the Campus Center Circle Lawn for the 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony.

About the University of Massachusetts Boston

With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston's only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston's eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit