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Augsburg honors two at June commencement

june_commence 1 At the June 29 commencement ceremony Augsburg College will grant honorary degrees to two individuals whose life accomplishments are reflective of this year’s commencement theme — “Global Learning.” Honorary degree candidates are selected from a field of nominees forwarded to the President and approved by the Board of Regents. June honorary degree recipients are:

Koryne E. Horbal

Ambassador Koryne E. Horbal has worked tirelessly throughout her life to empower women around the world and to give voice to their issues.

A native of Minneapolis, Horbal became involved in politics at the grassroots level and has been active in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party at every level from precinct to national committee for over 40 years. She was the first woman to serve as state chairperson, and was a founder of the Democratic Party Women’s Caucus.

She is most acclaimed for her work in the United Nations, which took her around the world meeting with women and striving to bring their issues to national and international agendas. In 1976, President Jimmy Carter appointed her as Fifth Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, part of the UN Economic and Social Council–a post she held for four years.

In 2007 Ambassador Horbal was honored by the Minnesota Democratic Women’s Leadership Coalition and the DFL Feminist Caucus with the creation of the “Koryne Horbal Fearless Award,” given annually to a woman who, among other things, “speaks truth to power, to allies, to friends and to self.”

With Augsburg’s Anne Pederson Women’s Resource Center, Horbal has been a loyal and energetic supporter for events, fundraising, and the annual lecture series that bears her name. It is through her connections that Augsburg has welcomed such noteworthy feminist speakers as Robin Morgan, Jane Fonda, and Gloria Steinem.

Medardo E. Gomez Soto

For 20 years Bishop Medardo Gomez Soto has served as the only bishop of the Lutheran Church in El Salvador. The Salvadoran Lutheran Synod, an independent church within the Lutheran World Federation, was founded in 1952 as part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It has grown rapidly and currently has more than 60,000 members.

During the violent civil war in El Salvador between 1982 and 1992, and under constant threat and at great risk, the Lutheran Church offered refuge and aid to victims of the war. Bishop Gomez was jailed and tortured during this period and forced to seek asylum away from El Salvador for a time. Upon his return home, he was instrumental in negotiating a peace agreement between the government and the leftist liberation group.

Numerous honors have been bestowed upon Bishop Gomez for his humanitarian work, most notably a nomination in 1992 for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1990, he was a co-recipient of the Rothco Chapel Oscar Arnulfo Romero award for dedication to truth and liberty, received the David W. Preus Prize for Leadership from Luther Seminary, and was awarded the Wittenberg National Prize from The Luther Institute in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Gomez remains undeterred and continues to speak out on behalf of the Salvadoran people, as they have continued to be challenged by violence and insecurity, hurricanes, and devastating earthquakes.

Visit for information about events surrounding the June commencement ceremony.

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