Humanitarian Paul Farmer Receives President's Medal

BUFFALO, NY - Canisius President John J. Hurley conferred the President's Medal upon humanitarian Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, prior to his lecture on Monday, September 16. 

The President's Medal bears the phrase ‘For God and Country’ and is bestowed only periodically to individuals who have distinguished themselves in public life through service to God and community. Farmer is the 45th recipient of the President's Medal since 1955.  Past recipients include Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty, the Hungarian prelate who was imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain for his opposition to Communism and fascism, and the Jesuit theologian Avery Cardinal Dulles. 

"Some years ago, then-Superior General of the Jesuits, Father Pedro Arrupe encouraged graduates of Jesuits schools to be men for others," said President Hurley in presenting the President's Medal. "Over time, that idea has evolved and we now say that our schools now strive to produce graduates who will be men and women for and with others. For it is not enough to work for someone in need, but we recognize that we must also stand in solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised and yes, the sick of the world. That has been your example to the world, Dr. Farmer."

Farmer is a medical anthropologist and physician who has dedicated his life to improving health care for the world’s poorest people. He is a founding director of Partners in Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization started in 1987 that provides direct-care services, advocacy and research activities for those who are sick or living in poverty. Started as a one-building clinic in the village of Cange, PIH’s project in Haiti has grown to a multi-service health complex that includes a primary school, an infirmary, a surgery wing, a training program for health outreach workers, a 104-bed hospital, a women’s clinic and a pediatric care facility. Over the past 20 years, PIH has expanded operations to 12 sites throughout Haiti and 12 additional countries. Farmer and his colleagues in the U.S. and worldwide have pioneered community-based treatment strategies that demonstrate the delivery of high-quality health care in resource-poor areas.

"He found his life’s calling in bringing the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most," added President Hurley. "His persistence in the face of overwhelming opposition from so many sources stands as a testament to the idea that one man can make a difference."

Farmer's lecture, entitled "To Repair the World," was presented by The William H. Fitzpatrick Chair of Political Science Lecture Series and attracted more than 700 people to campus Monday evening.

Click here to learn more about Paul Farmer's humanitarian work. 

Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.