Honorary Graduates at Durham University
(19 January 2007)
Durham University has celebrated three exceptional lives by awarding honorary degrees to a British Reform rabbi, a microbiologist and health reformer, and a giant of astronomy.
Dr Bill Bryson, Chancellor of Durham University conferred the degrees at ceremonies when about 1,000 students from more than 60 countries, mostly from masters and PhD programmes, also graduated. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman commented, “These three individuals are not only giants in their individual fields but each have strong links with Durham University and we are delighted to honour them.” Professor Sir John Arbuthnott, a Scottish microbiologist who was educated at Glasgow University before being made a Knight Bachelor for services to education in 1998 was awarded a Doctorate of Science. The ‘Arbuthnott Formula’ for resource allocation within NHS Scotland is named after him. The formula is the mechanism for the distribution of funding to all Health Boards in Scotland. It assesses key indicators of population, inequality and deprivation, and was created to provide equal opportunities for people to access free healthcare. Professor Arbuthnott is currently Chairman of the Greater Glasgow NHS Board, a post he has held since 2002. He served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde from 1991-2000. Professor Arbuthnott has close links to the University as Chair of the University’s External Advisory Board for the Wolfson Research Institute which is based at Queen’s Campus in Stockton and as Chair of the External Advisory Group to the Health Strategy Board. Professor White, a giant in contemporary astronomy with a long-standing link with the Physics Department at Durham where he has been a Visiting Professor for more than ten years was awarded a Doctorate of Science. As Scientific and Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany, he is a leading influence in the development of international collaboration in astronomy and one of the most frequently cited research scientists in the world. With others, including Professor Carlos Frenk in Durham, he co-developed the theory of Cold Dark Matter for the origin of galaxies and the structure of the cosmos which represents one of the greatest achievements in astronomy over the past three decades. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1997 and his many other honours include the US National Science Foundation Presidential Award and in 2004 the Heineman Prize, the most prestigious accolade of the American Astronomical Society. Lionel Blue, a British Reform rabbi who is probably best known for his wry and gentle sense of humour on ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to which he has contributed for more than 25 years, was awarded a Doctorate of Divinity. His combination of wit, humour, humility and compassion has appealed to and entertained people from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford and Leo Baeck College, where he now teaches, and was ordained as a British Reform rabbi in 1960. Rabbi Blue was the first rabbi to publicly declare his homosexuality and published ‘Godly and Gay’ in 1981. He is an Honorary Fellow of Grey College and an enthusiastic supporter of the Durham college culture.