Spotlight turns on four honorary doctors
(20 December 2005)
Durham University is awarding honorary doctorate degrees to four accomplished figures in the Catholic Church, sport, political life and higher education at its Winter Congregation ceremonies in January.
Chancellor of the University, Dr Bill Bryson, will confer the degrees on: Cardinal Walter Kasper - a leading Roman Catholic theologian and head of the Vatican’s office for ecumenical relations. He will receive an honorary DD – Doctor of Divinity – degree Will Greenwood – international rugby player, who gained an Economics degree at Durham. He will receive an honorary DCL – Doctor of Civil Law – degree Alan Heesom – recently retired after 40 years service in the History department with experience of several senior University posts. He also receives an honorary DCL. The Rt Hon Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland – Retired MP for Bishop Auckland, he has supported the University’s work in the region and gave particular help in setting up the Centre for Brass Band Studies. He will receive an honorary DCL. The ceremonies will be held on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th January in Durham Cathedral, when nearly 1,000 graduates of the University will also receive their awards - mostly higher degrees such as Masters’ qualifications, PhDs and other doctorates. Vice-Chancellor Sir Kenneth Calman: “Degree ceremonies are always a celebratory occasion, for all the students and their families and our staff who have helped them. It is also a time when we acknowledge the wider work of individual people with an honorary degree. I am delighted that on this occasion we have such a rich diversity of interests represented, which reflect many of the values and strengths of the University itself.“ Further details of the honorary candidates: Doctor of Divinity – DD Cardinal Walter Kasper - An eminent theologian and ecclesiastic of international standing and influence As a churchman and author of major academic works, Cardinal Walter Kasper, is established at the very forefront of contemporary Catholic theology committed to constructive ecumenical engagement. In 1964 he was appointed at the age of 31 to the chair in dogmatic theology at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Münster. From 1969 to 1970 he served as Dean of that Faculty. From 1970 to 1989 he held the chair in dogmatic theology at the Faculty of Theology in Tübingen which has strong links with Durham. Appointed Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart in 1989 he became Chairman of the Commission for World Church Affairs. In 1999 he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Secretary to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and became President of the Pontifical Council after he was named a cardinal in 2001. He was instrumental in achieving the historic 1999 agreement between the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church which concluded that the doctrine of justification by faith was no longer a dividing matter. With an outstanding record of academic, ecclesial and ecumenical achievements, Cardinal Kasper has been awarded honorary degrees from universities around the world, but has yet to be honoured by an English university. Doctor of Civil Law – DCL Will Greenwood - Harlequins and England rugby player During nearly 10 years as a full rugby international, the skilful Harlequins and England centre has toured Australia with England’s under 21 in 1993 and the A team in 1995. He made his international debut in 1997 and soon became a regular in the England squad helping secure the 2003 World Cup victory. He scored a hat trick against Wales at Cardiff, been man-of-the-match in beating Scotland and served as vice-captain for England in the Six Nations. He is a creative and authoritative player who has written one of the most insightful and personal sporting autobiographies. Will studied Economics at Durham University alongside playing rugby. Doctor of Civil Law - DCL Alan Heesom - historian and watchdog of standards in teaching and learning Over a span of some 40 years in the History department at Durham, Alan Heesom has been at various times a University officer, chairman of his department and chairman of St Cuthbert’s Society Council. He has served as a member of chairman of most committees and represented colleagues as an official of the Association of University Teachers. His experience made him an unparalleled influence, commentator, critic and champion of causes among students and academic and administrative colleagues. As a popular and enthusiastic teacher, both of full-time undergraduates and part-time external students on adult education programmes, and as a research supervisor, he has personified Durham's commitment to widening participation, has been a major figure in the development of good quality teaching and learning across the University, and helped to shape its current strategy for the future. In the decade before his retirement in 2005, he was, unusually, Deputy Dean and Dean of Social Sciences and Dean of Arts and Humanities. Doctor of Civil Law - DCL The Rt Hon Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland - outstanding parliamentarian Baron Foster of Bishop Auckland, as Derek Foster, was the Labour Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland in County Durham for 26 years. Foster was Chief Whip of the Opposition between 1985 and 1995 and a member of the Privy Council from 1993. After Tony Blair became leader in 1994, he became Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and althought offered a post in 1997 as Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office he declined in and was later appointed chair of the Commons sub-committee on employment, becoming something of a thorn in the Government's side during Mr Blair's first term. He retired from the Commons at the 2005 general election and was created a life peer. He has supported the University’s work in the region and gave particular help and encouragement in setting up the Centre for Brass Band Studies.