Anniversary accolades for major achievement
(25 June 2007)
Five leading figures have been awarded Durham University’s highest accolade, the honorary degree, in commemoration of its 175th landmark anniversary.
The series of honorary degrees, conferred by Chancellor Bill Bryson, were presented to pivotal figures in education, science, music, the media and religion. Durham University graduates, BBC news presenter George Alagiah and educationalist Sir Mike Tomlinson CBE were among those honoured at the special ceremony held in Durham Cathedral on Saturday (23 June). George Alagiah said, “You can't cram for an honorary degree; late-night, last-minute revision isn't going to help either - it isn't about a one-off effort. This honorary degree is for everything I have tried to be in the thirty odd years since I left Durham and it is such an honour to have that long-term achievement recognised. Durham played a huge part in my life - some of my closest friends are people I met in Freshers' Week - and there is something rather special about being back here again.” Eminent scientist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE CBE, internationally acclaimed composer and conductor Dr James MacMillan CBE and the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Dr Tom Wright also received honorary degrees. Bishop Tom Wright, who was born in Northumberland, said, “Durham – its cathedral, its university, and its colleges – has been a special part of my life, and my family’s life, for several generations. I am descended from the University’s first Registrar, and I like to think he would be pleased with what I’ve been up to. In particular, the great traditions of biblical and theological scholarship here have been an inspiration for my own study, and I am enormously proud to be receiving an honorary degree in the cathedral where Lightfoot, Westcott, Ramsey and so many others served before me.” The special ceremony was held as a highlight of the anniversary events planned for 2007, which have been organised to reflect on the University’s illustrious history, celebrate the contribution of students, staff, and alumni and communicate a shared vision for the future with the wider community. Professor Chris Higgins, Vice Chancellor of Durham University, said: “We are pleased and privileged to honour these individuals for their remarkable successes, often accomplished through sheer hard work, which have provided a benchmark for excellence in their respective fields. “Those honoured today are impressive not only in their exceptional achievements, but also in their inspirational dedication to their work.” Further honorary degrees are to be awarded in the Summer Congregation ceremonies next week on 27, 28 and 29 June. They will be awarded to: oAlastair Fothergill – Award-winning director of wildlife documentaries including Planet Earth and Blue Planet oProfessor Dame Marilyn Strathern DBE, FBA – World-leading social anthropologist and international scholar oH.E. Judge Navanethem Pillay – Standard bearer for women’s rights in South Africa and first black woman to be appointed as a Supreme Court Judge in South Africa. Now Chairwoman of Durham University’s Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. oRichard Adams – Newcastle-based founder of Britain’s largest fair trade company oLord Broers – distinguished engineer and leading international figure in nanotechnology