Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the fifth president of the Republic of Iceland. He received his B.A. in economics and political science from the University of Manchester in 1965, and he also received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester five years later. He subsequently became the first professor of political science at the University of Iceland. The President first took a seat in Althingi (the national parliament of Iceland) in 1974 and served as Iceland’s minister of finance from 1988 to 1991.

President Grímsson has been extremely active in international venues. He was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from 1981 to 1984. From 1995 to 1996 he served as chairman and later president of the international organization, Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), from 1984 to 1990, remaining on its council until 1996.

Among the many international awards he has received is the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize which he received on behalf of PGA, and, in 2008 he will be awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. He was a member of the committee of the Peace Initiative of Six Heads of State from 1984 to 1989.

In recent years the President has been very active in international dialogue on renewable energy and climate change. Together with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, President Grímsson initiated the Global Roundtable on Climate Change, which met both at Columbia University and in Iceland and included representatives from nearly 100 European and American corporations, as well as experts, scientists and leaders. He has actively participated in the Clinton Global Initiative and has helped establish projects to benefit Africa. President Grímsson strongly advocates for the use of geothermal energy, which is a renewable, economically viable and reliable resource, as proven convincingly by Iceland.

President Grímsson has for several years been a board member of the Special Olympics, and he played a major role in the international drug prevention campaign, Youth in Europe, which now enjoys the participation of 19 European cities. He has also been active in promoting cooperation between Icelandic and foreign universities, and has lectured at prominent American academic institutions including Harvard University, Brown University and Ohio State University.

President Grímsson is married to Dorrit Moussaieff. He has two daughters from his marriage to Gudrun Katrin Thorbergsdottir, who passed away in 1998.

Source: University Programs and Events Planning Resources, September 2008