MAKERERE UNIVERSITY HONORS WILDLIFE HERO RUTH KEESLING

Ruth Morris Keesling, an American philanthropist and animal lover, on January 21, received an honorary doctorate degree from Makerere University.

The honorary Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) of Makerere University is in recognition of Keesling's "distinguished and selfless contribution to Makerere University, Uganda, the eastern and central African region and global communities," an official statement from the university's public relations office partly reads.

"Ms Ruth Morris Keesling has made the world a better place! She deserves this prestigious award!" says the glowing and lengthy statement signed by Senior Public Relations Officer Rita Namisango.

Makerere University states that Keesling is the 1st person to ever receive the Doctorate of Science and the 11th person to receive any of the honorary doctorate degrees from Makerere, since the 1970s. The 10 earlier awardees (Doctorate of Law), largely Africans and politicians, are Idi Amin (Uganda past President), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania past President), Mashood Abiola, Michael Nsimbi, Prof Joyce Mook, Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania past President), Prof Lillethm Endre, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda's current President) and Rashidi Kawawa (Tanzania past Prime Minister), and Mwai Kibaki (Kenya past President).

 

Coveted Award
But what earns Keesling this coveted award?

Makerere University's college of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity last October released a seven-page 'summary' nomination biography that lists ten of Keesling's contributions to Makerere, Uganda and humanity, centering on conservation of primates, promotion of science and research and of tourism in the region.

The US national, born April 4, 1930 in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a graduate in Journalism from the University of Colorado, 1953, Keesling grew up in the first small animal hospital in the USA, established by her veterinarian father, Dr Mark L Morris, in New Jersey.

She learned to love animals at an early age, and after graduating, she became a partner in Mark Morris Associates and Theracon Laboratories, the family's animal nutritional research organizations, which developed prescription diets and science diets for dogs and cats.

Since 1948, she has worked as a lifetime trustee and executive committee member to develop the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), which is dedicated to solving health problems in companion animals and wildlife. Today, MAF is the largest animal-specialist non-governmental organization in the world.

Closer home, since 1984, Keesling has dedicated her energies, finances and time to gorilla conservation, making major contributions to the recovery of the mountain gorilla population from 248 at the time to the current estimate of 880.



List of Contributions
The college compiled a long list of her contributions that include; the establishment of the department of Wildlife and Animal Resources Management (WARM), now called Wildlife and Aquatic Animal Resources WAAR); capacity building in wildlife health management by funding scholarships for students and lecturers, infrastructure development at the college including; rehabilitating buildings and purchase of expensive modern specialized equipment. Some 36 veterinarians have acquired doctorates through her funding.

Other contributions include establishment of the world's first veterinary clinic for free-ranging wildlife, meeting the cost of local and expatriate veterinarians researching, treating and providing quarantine services and rehabilitation of confiscated mountain gorillas in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of academics at Makerere University Professor Okello Ogwang says, Keesling has made an outstanding contribution at Makerere and other areas of conservation across the East African region.

Also, away from research, Keesling has sponsored up to 36 first and Masters degrees and PhDs at the university in veterinary medicine, research, and biosecurity.

"She is contributing to the building of the Ruth Keesling Wildlife Health and Research Center, a regional center for wildlife health, tourism research and extension training at the Makerere University Veterinary School," said Principal David Kabasa. "She is supporting Gorilla doctors. She is incredible."

The Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board, Stephen Asimwe says, the contribution by Keesling in conservation of the mountain gorillas has boosted Uganda's tourism development. He said currently, earnings from gorilla permits contribute to more than half of the total earnings from the tourism sector in the country.

Besides funding gorilla health research that has resulted in at least 85 publications, 54 abstracts and 10 books, she also funded the famous 1990 phylogenetic study that reclassified the Bwindi gorillas as mountain gorillas, leading to nomination of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park as a world heritage site.

He welcomed the award saying it recognizes the great efforts of the lady who dedicated her entire life in conserving wildlife.

 
.


.


.


.


.


.


.


.


.


.
 
.


.


.


.


.


.


.


.


.


.

 



Download Original PDF Announcement Documents:
Ruth Keesling awarded Honorary Doctorate
Nomination of Ruth Keesling






© Copyright 2013,   Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund,   All Rights Reserved.

Bookmark and Share

.