ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Elmira College will honor Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with a symbolic degree to acknowledge his leadership of Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

The honorary degree in absentia is a symbolic award part of an effort from several colleges and universities in the greater Rochester area. Elmira College said the degree will “recognize the heroic leadership Zelenskyy has shown so far during the war with Russia while also honoring the Ukrainian people and their struggle to maintain their independence as a sovereign nation.”

“We are glad to be part of the movement to recognize the courage, fortitude, and grace Volodymyr Zelenskyy has shown in what is perhaps the most difficult test a leader can face,” said Elmira College President Dr. Charles Lindsay. “In Zelenskyy, we see a person who exemplifies the kind of character and leadership we hope our students will embody as they face the challenges and complexities of today’s world.”

According to Elmira College, at least 17 other colleges and universities will award Zelenskyy with honorary degrees after Alfred University President Mark Zupan came up with the idea. Zupan then reached out to other institutions in the greater Rochester area, a region which Elmira College said almost 40,000 people of Ukrainian descent call home.

Elmira College will also host a Ukraine Prayer Vigil on May 4 to show its support for the people of Ukraine.