Professor Celso Lafer was the recipient of Universitas 21's 2015 Gilbert Medal for Internationalisation, presented in May 2015.
Professor Lafer is Emeritus Professor of the Institute of International Relations at the University of São Paulo, and President of (FAPESP), the state research funding council for São Paulo. He served twice as Brazil’s foreign minister (1991-92 and 2001-02) and also as the commerce minister in 1999. From 1995-98, he was Brazil’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and to the World Trade Organisation. Professor Lafer is a strong believer in the importance of the internationalisation of higher education, as witnessed by his development of schemes with overseas universities at FAPESP, and in his promotion of English as a key skill for academics and diplomats.
On receiving news of the award, Professor Lafer said:
This award is very important for the international higher education community and it is a distinction for me to have been remembered in this context.
Professor Sir David Eastwood, Chair of the U21 network and Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, one of U21’s founding members, commented:
The Gilbert Medal recognises those whose actions have had a significant impact on international higher education. Celso Lafer more than exemplifies that having been a major force in Brazilian education and also played a role on both the national and international stages when in government. He is a wonderful example of someone who has made contributions in many facets of the life of his country and beyond, something he continues to do as President of the São Paulo Research Foundation.