Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly was recently presented with an honorary doctorate degree in humanities from United Graduate College and Seminary (UGCS), and the Indian Health Service (IHS) Director’s Special Recognition Award.
“President Ben Shelly is being honored with the Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities for his strong stance as a national advocate for health and education for the tribal nations across the United States,” Dr. Clyde Rivers, chief chancellor of educational Development Worldwide for UGCS, said in a press release. “All great leaders look out for the betterment of their people and do not focus on personal gain. President Shelly is a man of honor that demonstrates this excellent spirit of leadership. Because of his leadership the Navajo Nation is developing in major ways.”
He received his honorary degree July 2, and on June 29 accepted an award from IHS Director Dr. Yvette Roubideaux for “outstanding public health leadership” for his efforts to ban tobacco products in public places on the Navajo Nation.
“The Shelly-Jim Administration is currently working on legislation to protect the health of our children, families, workers and citizens against secondhand smoke, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases caused by using commercial tobacco products,” Shelly said in a press release. “We appreciate IHS’s recognition and support.” Shelly was the first tribal leader to ever receive this award.
Shelly and Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim are trying to get legislation passed to ban commercial tobacco products in workplaces and indoor public places. The ban would not apply to the use of tobacco in traditional ceremonies.
Shelly was sworn into office January 1, 2011 after serving as a Navajo Nation Council delegate for 16 years and as vice president for four years.