St. Olaf to award honorary degree to private secretary to King of Norway
St. Olaf College will award an honorary degree to Knut Brakstad, private secretary to King Harald V of Norway, on November 7.
The honorary degree convocation, part of the college’s Founders Day celebration, will be streamed and archived online.
Brakstad was born in Molde, Norway, graduating from Rauma Folkehøgskole, Molde, in 1974 and Molde Gymnas in 1977. In 1983 he earned his master of divinity degree at Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet in Oslo, as well as a divinity degree at the University of Oslo’s theological seminary. Brakstad pursued additional studies at St. Olaf College from 1979 to 1980.
In 1981 he studied philosophy at Augustana Hochschule in Germany before going on to study radio and television production at the National Radio and TV Centre in London the following year. He received a degree in family therapy from the Nic Waals Institutt in Oslo in 1990.
Brakstad’s year at St. Olaf was a transformative one for him. The college’s distinctive liberal arts education, grounded in academic rigor, global engagement, and the Lutheran faith tradition, shaped his personal philosophy of servant-leadership and provided the framework for his life journey as a humanitarian, civic leader, and theologian.
He began his professional career in 1984 as navy chaplain in the Royal Norwegian Navy, Navel District East (ØSD), and served for two years as a senior advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo. From 1987 to 1991, he was a Lutheran minister at Geilo in Hallingdal (Church of Norway), and was a project manager for the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee from 1991 to 1994. Brakstad became private secretary to His Majesty, King Harald V, in 1994.
Brakstad was on the board of Norwegians Abroad (Nordmannsforbundet) for 17 years, and from 1995 to 2012 served as vice president of the board. Through his work with Nordmannsforbundet and the 1994 Winter Olympics, and as a representative of Norway’s royal family, Brakstad has been a passionate advocate for Norwegian culture throughout the world — but always behind the scenes.
In 2005 Brakstad received the Knight’s Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav, awarded by King Harald V in recognition of his accomplishments on behalf of Norway and humanity.