Norwich University awards honorary diplomas to former Iranian students from the Class of 1980

Iranian alumni of the Class of 1980On Friday, September 23, Norwich awarded honorary diplomas to 10 Iranian students who began their education at Norwich but who never had an opportunity to complete their studies at the University.

In April, 1980, President Jimmy Carter severed all U.S. and Iranian ties. His action was deeply felt at Norwich, where more than 75 University students from Iran were ordered to leave the country. Of the Iranian students on campus at the time of this incident, 77 were midshipmen in the Iranian Navy who were in the United States on diplomatic rather than student visas. These individuals were given 48 hours to leave the country. Thirty-five of the deported students were slated to graduate less than four weeks later, in May of 1980. Most of Iranians involved in this incident never returned to Norwich to complete their studies and receive diplomas.

In 2004, Norwich University Trustee Keith Barrett proposed to President Richard Schneider and the rest of the University Trustees the idea of presenting honorary diplomas to the Iranian students at their 25th reunion during Homecoming, and the motion was approved.

On September 23, the class of 1980 celebrated its 25th reunion. Ten of the 35 former Class of 1980 Iranian students who were ordered to leave the University and never received a college degree were able to attend the ceremony, including two who traveled to Northfield from Iran.

"I am happy that we are able to extend this offer to these students in recognition of the effort and sacrifice they made while they were at Norwich," said President Schneider. "We have always considered these students a part of the Norwich family."

Representing the Class of 1980, Kazem Yahyapour expressed the sentiments of his fellow Iranians in a moving acceptance speech, in which he thanked President Schneider and the Trustees, "for turning this dream into a wonderful reality."

"It is hard to describe the great honor we feel to be recognized as Norwich graduates," Yahyapour said. "We believe Norwich University is a great institution that cares about all of its students -- here, and around the world. We will carry this moment in our hearts forever."

The former Iranian students who accepted honorary degrees from Norwich University were:

  • Mehrdad Ilyati Alvand
  • Saied Deris
  • Behnam Ghobadi
  • Kazem Memari
  • Masoud Najafi
  • Arsi Namdar
  • Nadar Shaghaghi
  • Taghi Shoaee
  • Hojat Yaldaparast
  • Mohammad Zerehi

President Schneider congratulates Iranian alumni of the Class of 1980