Last week marked a significant milestone in the history of VLIR-UOS, as a delegation from VLIR-UOS travelled to Lubumbashi (DR Congo) to receive an honorary doctorate from the Université de Lubumbashi. This recognition is a token of appreciation for more than 20 years of academic cooperation. Since 1998, no fewer than 24 VLIR-UOS projects were launched with the University of Lubumbashi, totalling 4 million euros.
The ceremony began with testimonies from both Congolese and Belgian professors, each telling a story of why their experience with VLIR-UOS changed their careers and why they felt the organisation was deserving of the honorary doctorate. The testimonies, each of them personal and inspiring, set the tone for the rest of the event. A moment to celebrate research and international cooperation.
The five-member jury, comprising Professors Malonga Kaj Françoise, Antoine Tshitungu, Pascal Kapangama, Ngongo Luhembwe Michel, and César Nkuku Khonde, shortly withdrew after the testimonies and concluded the conferral of the honorary doctorate to be justified.
Professor Ann Peeters (VUB), representing VLIR UOS, and Professor Serge Jaumain (ULB), representing ARES, were called onto the stage of Mgr Tshibangu Tshishiku Hall to receive, with the highest distinction, the first-ever honorary doctorates awarded to Belgian organisations for their efforts in the context of university development cooperation.
Dressed in the toga and colours of UNILU, we were honoured to be celebrated with Rector Kishiba Fitula’s laudatory words. Speaking of the relationship between UNILU and its Belgian partners, he said: "Today's lesson deserves to be carried by each and every one of us, to be carried and transported wherever we are, wherever we dare [...] like those who stood on the shoulders of the great, without burdening them, with a view to seeing far, far ahead and going further in quality, in research, in training".
This achievement would not have been possible without the invaluable support of countless individuals, institutions, and partners who have believed in our vision and continue to carry out our motto of “Sharing minds, changing lives.” We express our deepest appreciation for their unwavering commitment and support throughout this remarkable journey.