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Remembering the 41st U.S. president

Photos courtesy of Archives and Records Management

George H.W. Bush received honorary degree from UD in 1983

Editor's note: Watch a video of George Herbert Walker Bush's remarks at UD in 1983. Video courtesy of University Media Services.


Among the many honors and awards that George Herbert Walker Bush accrued over his long and distinguished career is one from the University of Delaware.

President Bush, who died on Nov. 30, came to the University’s Newark campus more than 35 years ago —  on Nov. 5, 1983 — to receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Then serving as vice president of the United States, he was honored in a ceremony at Clayton Hall attended by some 700 guests, including many state and University officials, as well as members of UD’s Board of Trustees.

UD President E.A. Trabant and Board Chairman Bruce Bredin presented the degree to then-Vice President Bush, with Mr. Bredin noting that it was “in recognition of your remarkable and illustrious career of public service and the breadth of your activity to the public good.”

In his remarks, Bush reiterated the Reagan administration policies of less government regulation of industry and lower taxes for business. “The best thing government can do is stop interfering and to give back to the American people the freedom to realize those ideas.”

George H.W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush speaks with reporters during his 1983 visit to the University of Delaware.

He also recognized two fellow honorees – Wilbert L. and Genevieve W. Gore – who were awarded the University’s Medal of Distinction at the same ceremony. Bush said they exemplified the spirit of individualism “that made this country great. It was individuals, such as the Gores; individuals with the imagination and the means to make their dreams come true.” (The Gores, who were generous benefactors of the University, are today memorialized on campus by Gore Hall and by Gore Recital Hall in the Roselle Center for the Arts.)

“Where better than in a university to speak about the power of ideas, especially such a university as this, one which has contributed so much itself and has just honored the Gores, whose ideas are now at work in medicine and moon rockets, building a better life for all of us,” Bush said that day.

“America is still a land of dreams,” he concluded, “dreams dreamt in freedom and realized in opportunity. Just let’s be sure that we keep it that way.”

After the formal ceremony, Bush held a press briefing for reporters.

The ceremony, called Founders Day, was held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the granting of a charter to the University by the state of Delaware.

Research for this article was conducted by Lisa Gensel, coordinator of archives in University Archives and Records Management.

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