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President of Costa Rica to lead UC Berkeley Charter Day celebration, addressing freedom, security and trade
12 March 2002

By José L. Rodríguez

Berkeley - The University of California, Berkeley, will celebrate its 134th anniversary on Friday (March 15) with a keynote address by Costa Rican President Miguel A. Rodríguez.

Rodríguez, who in 1966 received his PhD in economics from UC Berkeley, will speak on trade and development in Latin America.

The Charter Day ceremony, which commemorates the founding of the University of California in 1868, is scheduled for noon in Zellerbach Auditorium. Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl will deliver the welcome.

Among the alumni who will be honored during the program are Rodríguez, who will be given the Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award for his commitment to public service; and Joanna Lennon, a 1970 and 1981 alumna and founder of the East Bay Conservation Corps., who will receive the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award for her work within the United States.

In addition, in a separate reception to be held Friday evening, the California Alumni Association will honor U. S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta as its 2001 Alumnus of the Year. Mineta, a 1953 alumnus of UC Berkeley, is being honored for his lifetime of service.

In his keynote address at the Charter Day ceremony, Rodríguez is expected to comment on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, human rights in the hemisphere, and the struggle against terrorism.

Rodríguez's public career began almost the moment he graduated from UC Berkeley, when he returned to Costa Rica and became director of the Central Bank and minister of national planning for his country. At the same time, he began his academic career, holding an appointment as a professor of mathematical economics and equilibrium theory at the University of Costa Rica.

During his four-year term as president, which ends in May, Rodríguez has attracted foreign investment to Costa Rica, controlled government spending and debt, and managed inflation while safeguarding his nation's social advances and attacking poverty.

Rodríguez has shown an "outstanding ability to apply economic knowledge to practical economic problems," said Maurice Obstfeld, chair of UC Berkeley's Department of Economics and Class of 1958 Professor of Economics.

For more information on Charter Day, visit