Armacost Speaks at Commencement

Posted by cservaes on September 19, 2011 in Alumni, Events, "The College" Relations between America and Pakistan are the worst they’ve been in more than two decades. But Dr. Peter Armacost, Ottawa University president from 1967-1977, is doing what he can to change that. Armacost, who is president of Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, spoke to the Ottawa University community twice in May – during a lecture in the Mowbray Union and at The College’s 146th Commencement Ceremony on May 7, during which he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. He said one of the reasons tension between the two countries is so strong is largely because of misconceptions and stereotypes. According to Armacost, Pakistanis believe Americans only interfere when necessary for their own benefit; Americans, on the other hand, believe Islam, Pakistan’s official religion, is at the root of terrorism. “The Pakistanis are wonderful, warm, gracious, generous people,” said Armacost. “They’re peace-loving people, despite the TV.” Since being named president of Forman Christian College in 2002, Armacost said he and his wife have been treated well – contrary to what most Americans would believe. Forman Christian College is Pakistan’s only liberal arts college, and Armacost said that should serve as an example of the two countries working together, because at the school, Islam and Christianity work hand in hand. During his tenure as Forman president, Armacost has worked with the Pakistani Board of Governors of the college to hire 278 new faculty members. Enrollment at the school has reached 5,442 students – a growth of 74% in just six years. Even though there are more than 5,000 students enrolled at the school, only 770 are Christians, according to Armacost. Out of the more than 270 faculty members, only 80 are Christians. A recognized leader in American higher education, Armacost served as president of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, from 1977 to 2000 following his presidency at Ottawa University. Armacost has served as a member of the executive committees of the board of directors of the Association of American Colleges, Council of Independent Colleges, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, The College Compact, the Society of Religion in Higher Education, the American Baptist College Presidents Association, and the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. When not in Pakistan, Armacost and his wife, Dr. Mary-Linda Merriam Armacost, president emerita of Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and former president of Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, live in St. Petersburg. He has four children with his first wife, Suzanne Sadosky Armacost, who died in 1991.