A prestigious Romanian university conferred an honorary doctorate on Seventh-day Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson in recognition of the church’s influence and respect in this East European country.
Mihnea Costoiu, rector of University Politehnica of Bucharest, the oldest and largest engineering institute in Romania, presented Wilson with the large, framed certificate during a 45-minute ceremony on July 11.
“I do not accept this as an honor for me but as an honor for my colleagues and the church, for what they are doing to build up society,” Wilson told Costoiu during a meeting in the rector’s office shortly before the ceremony.
“This is important,” the rector replied, praising the church’s work in Romania.
At the ceremony, Costoiu thanked the Adventist Church for seeking to improve lives in his country and around the world, especially through education.
“It’s important to develop a relationship with the Adventist Church because it has a large network of schools,” said Costoiu, a former science minister, who has visited the engineering school at Adventist-owned Walla Walla University in the U.S. state of Washington.
The vice rector, Tudor Prisecaru, underscored that God is at the foundation of the university’s studies.
“The more that science evolves, the more we believe in God,” he said, paraphrasing physicist Albert Einstein.
In his remarks, Wilson encouraged the university and its students to do their best for God and for others. He also thanked the university for extending religious freedom to all its 31,000 students. The university, founded 199 years ago, ensures that Adventist students do not face any Sabbath conflicts with their classes.
It was unclear how many Adventists study on the campus. The university does not keep records of students’ religious beliefs as part of what its administrators called an extra effort to preserve an environment of religious freedom.
The Adventist Church has about 70,000 members in Romania, a country of 20 million people. Church membership is larger here than in any other country in Europe.
Stefan Tomoiaga, president of the Adventist Church in Romania, said Adventist students still encounter Sabbath difficulties at some schools, and he saw a direct link between the honorary doctorate and the church’s religious liberty work.
“It recognizes the good cooperation between the university, the state, and the Adventist Church in Romania,” he said.
Wilson, who holds a doctorate in religious education from New York University, and his wife, Nancy, toured the campus before the ceremony, stopping by classrooms where instructors showcased the latest advances in drones and artificial intelligence.
Wilson was wrapping up a four-week trip to Europe that included a Bible and science tour in France, Italy, and Switzerland as well as a visit to sites associated with Martin Luther in Germany, which is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this year.
On the evening of July 11, Wilson traveled to the Romanian affiliate of the church-owned Hope Channel for an hour-long interview.