Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer on May 12 received an honorary doctorate degree from Mid-Continent University, Kentucky.
“President of Mid-Continent University, Dr. Robert Imhoff says that they are delighted to have Prime Minister Spencer in Kentucky and to honor him for his work in the development of the people of Antigua and Barbuda, the international community, sports and culture,” according to a statement from the Antiguan government.
Spencer also had the opportunity to address the more than 200 graduates and hundreds of parents and supporters, following which he received a standing ovation, the statement said.
In his address to the graduates, Spencer urged them to be shining lights in their communities and to make positive contributions to the development of their nation.
“For some of you this is a new beginning, an opportunity to explore new pathways and examine new horizons in life; for others, it is a continuation of advancement in a particular field of work,” he said.
“But for all of you, this graduation ceremony is a testimony of your desire to continue a life journey of service and stewardship to your community,” he added.
“It is a major step towards seeking and acquiring the tools, skills and wisdom that will foster confidence, goodwill and pride in life,” Spencer continued.
He said the occasion was historic, because it was the first time a prime minister from Antigua and Barbuda had addressed a graduation ceremony at Mid-Continent University.
Spencer said the relationship between the institution and Antigua and Barbuda is due, in large part, to the efforts of the university’s President Dr. Robert Imhoff, “and his encounter over the years with Antiguans and Barbudans, who have contributed in a significant way to the growth and development of the game of soccer in some colleges in the Mid West, U.S.A.
“My government and the people of Antigua and Barbuda, particularly persons from the Wesleyan Holiness Church Community, the Villa Lions Soccer Club and the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, recognize with profound gratitude the efforts made by Dr. Imhoff and his team, over the past 25 years in building a solid and fruitful relationship that has impacted on the lives of so many young Antiguans and Barbudans,” the prime minister said.
On May 11, Spencer was hosted at a reception by Mayor of Paducah, Bill Paxton, “during which, discussions centered on closer ties between Paducah and Antigua and Barbuda,” the statement said.
During the reception, which included members of Paducah’s Chamber of Commerce and other prominent officials in the city, Spencer was bestowed the honor of Duke of Paducah by the Mayor Paxton.
Mayor Paxton indicated that Spencer was the first head of state in more than 40 years to visit Kentucky.
Spencer said he was delighted to be in Kentucky, and commended his hosts for their excellent hospitality. He also invited Mayor Paxton to visit Antigua immediately on his retirement later this year.
Dr. James W. Cecil, dean emeritus of the Baptist College of the Bible of Mid-Continent University who is a regular visitor to Antigua and Barbuda on missionary work, announced during the reception that his church organization will construct two community centers in Antigua.
On May 11, Spencer also held discussions with U.S. Congressman Ed Whitfield and members of the Board of Mid-Continent University on developing the relationship between Antigua and Barbuda and Mid-Continent University.
Several Antiguan and Barbudan students have benefited from football and other forms of scholarships from Mid-Continent University, the statement said.