(NECN) – Jack Wilson, president emeritus and distinguished professor at UMass Lowell, had the privilege of presenting Nelson Mandela and his wife with an honorary degree years ago.
“It’s incredible- the way Nelson Mandela has united the world. He was a human being who is admired by people of every political stripe. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet him. My entire family met him, my children met him, it was an incredible experience,” Wilson said.
He talked about how Mandela lit up when he met Wilson’s children.
“He rushed to my son, John, and he said ‘now you must be the president of UMass,’” Wilson explained. “Across from him, his wife runs to my daughter and kisses her on the head, and after the session, he demanded that they come up on stage with him.”
Wilson also discussed how Mandela generally didn’t like to accept honorary degrees. However, presentation of this degree was to raise funds for HIV, so he agreed in order to help raise support.