UMass Amherst Department of Political Science


Wiarda Honored by President of Dominican Republic

Wiarda Honored by President of Dominican Republic

faculty news


In a ceremony Friday, February 10 at the Dominican Republic National Palace, Professor Emeritus Howard J. Wiarda  was awarded the "Orden de Colon" (Order of Columbus) by President Leonel Fernandez. The Orden de Colon is the highest honor that the Dominican Republic government can bestow.

Wiarda began his academic career in the Dominican Republic fifty years ago when he wrote is MA thesis (and first book) on "The Methods of Control in the Dictatorship of Rafael Trujilo." He wrote his PhD thesis (and second and third books) on the post-Trujillo "Transition to Democracy" and the US military intervention, a prelude to Vietnam of 1965. 

Professor Wiarda is presently the Dean Rusk Professor of International Relations and the founding head of the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia. He is considered one of the country's leading experts on foreign policy, comparative politics, and international affairs. He taught at UMass 1965-2003.

Professor Wiarda has written seven books, one in three volumes, about the Dominican Republic. One of his children was born there. Over a fifty year period he has visited and done research in that country on thirty-three occasions. A leading Latin America expert and prolific author of over seventy books, he has also done extensive research on Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, the Middle East, and Southern Africa. 

In honoring Professor Wiarda, President Fernandez spoke of his "inestimable contributions" to Dominican scholarship. About 150 guests and friends gathered for the event in the Diplomatic room of the Palace.

The award ceremony was followed by a lunch in the President's private dining room. Prof. Wiarda then met one-on-one with the President in his private office for a wide-ranging discussion of politics and international affairs.

President Fernandez, who was one of Professor Wiarda's students thirty five years ago, is considered the best and brightest of a new crop of Latin American democratic presidents. Finishing his third elected term this year, he is thought to be a leading prospect for high UN or other international organization positions.


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