2015 Gilbert Medal winner announced

02 February 2015
U21 is delighted to announce that Professor Celso Lafer has been awarded the 2015 Gilbert Medal for Internationalisation.

Professor Celso Lafer has been announced as the recipient of the 2015 Gilbert Medal for Internationalisation awarded by by Universitas 21 (U21). The medal is named in honour of the late Professor Alan Gilbert, founder of Universitas 21, and upholds his work as a lifelong proponent of the benefits of internationalisation. It celebrates some of the core objectives of the U21 network, which aim to increase understanding, trust and partnership between international universities.


Professor Lafer is Emeritus Professor of the Institute of International Relations at the University of São Paulo, Brazil and President of Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (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.” He joins a growing list of stellar international contributors who have been presented with the Gilbert Medal, among them Dr Domenico Lenarduzzi, founder of the Erasmus programme (2014), Dr Jane Knight, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (2013) and Dr Allan Goodman of the Institute of International Education (2012).


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.”


The Gilbert Medal itself features the winning design from a competition among students at Lund University, the host of the first award presentation. The medal is manufactured in the world-renowned Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, UK and has been described by the craftsmen who work on it as “simply stunning”. The medal will be presented to Professor Lafer in on Thursday 7 May 2015, as part of U21’s Annual Presidential Meeting, being held at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.