Devoted public servant, you earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at Albany and then began a career in the public sector that has spanned local, state, national and international levels. While at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you worked to strengthen education and training support for the poorest American women. Your tenure as Assistant Secretary for Food and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture led to numerous lasting improvements, including electronic benefit transfer programs for aid delivery, a food package for poor breastfeeding mothers, and the first Food Guide Pyramid to educate Americans on healthy diets.
Skilled and compassionate leader, you were appointed Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme in 1992 under the recommendation of President George H.W. Bush and were reappointed with the support of President William J. Clinton. As Chief Executive, you made institutional changes that placed the food aid agency in the forefront of international agencies in efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, and income, and earned it praise as a model of U.N. reform.
The World Food Programme under your leadership is credited with assisting hundreds of millions of victims of war and natural disasters. You were widely commended for your efforts to end famine in North Korea, to avert starvation in Afghanistan and in the Horn of Africa, and to ensure that food was delivered effectively during crises in Bosnia and Kosovo and following Hurricane Mitch in Central America. In recognition of these extraordinary efforts, you received the World Food Prize Laureate.
Innovative and effective manager, following your highly successful tenure at the World Food Programme, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed you Under Secretary General for Management, responsible for the U.N.'s human, financial, and physical resources, and the security of its staff worldwide. While serving in this position, you improved policies and procedures on many levels. You also chaired the U.N. System Standing Committee on Nutrition and were twice sent to serve as the Secretary General's envoy: for drought in the Horn of Africa and for humanitarian needs in Gaza and the West Bank.
Esteemed consultant and faculty member, you have disseminated your hard-earned lessons and invaluable experience to students and colleagues in academia, government, and foundations. Since 2005 you have been a member of the faculty of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. You have in the past served as Policy Maker in Residence at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and as a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
You were appointed by President George W. Bush as a member of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, which advises the U.S. Agency for International Development. As a senior fellow in agricultural development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, you advised on the development of the foundation's agriculture portfolio that strives to improve the well being of poor farmers in Africa and South Asia.
Time and again in your career, you have witnessed suffering brought about by natural calamity and by human folly. When confronted by desperate poverty, you did not despair. Instead you set to work calmly and compassionately to assuage immediate suffering and implement lasting reform.
Nelson Mandela said, "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice." Such acts of justice have been the great work of your life.
Therefore, under the authority of the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware, I have the pleasure and honor of conferring upon you, Catherine Ann Bertini, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters and do declare you entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges to that degree appertaining throughout the world. In testimony thereof, I am pleased to present to you this diploma.
A. Gilchrist Sparks III
May 29, 2010