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Ceremonies Unit

Honorary Degrees

At certain Congregation ceremonies the University awards honorary degrees to candidates who have been nominated by University staff and approved by Senate. During the ceremony a speech (oration) of the life and work of the graduand is presented prior to conferring the award.

If you would like someone to be considered for an honorary award, view the nomination information.


The following honorary degrees will be awarded during Summer Congregation 2016

Robert Burgess - Honorary Doctor of Civil Law on Wednesday 29 June at 2pm

Professor Sir Robert Burgess is a Durham alumnus, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester and a major force in the UK Higher Education sector. He is a specialist in the sociology of education and was a major influence on the use of qualitative methods in social science research. Professor Burgess has held a number of roles in national higher education organisations including chair of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) board, and chair of the Higher Education Academy. As chair of the Universities UK/GuildHE Teacher Education Advisory Group, he strongly defended the importance of the role of universities in teacher education. He trained as a teacher at Bede and studied Sociology at Durham University, where he met his wife Hilary, graduating in 1971 from the College of St Hild and St Bede. He was knighted in 2010 for services to Higher Education locally and nationally.

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George Garlick - Honorary Doctor of Letters on Friday 1 July at 11am

George Garlick was Chief Executive of Durham County Council until he retired in January 2016. He joined the Council in 2008 and led the successful merger of eight local authorities into one unitary authority, creating the fifth largest unitary council in England. Under his leadership County Durham has attracted significant investments such as the Hitachi train factory, worth over £82 million, as well as major cultural events including Lumiere - the UK's largest light festival. George graduated with a BA in Philosophy from the University of Hull in 1978, and after studying law at Guildford College of Law he worked as a solicitor for various English councils, before becoming Assistant Chief Executive with Cumbria County Council. From there he became the first Chief Executive of Stockton Borough Council before moving to Durham. In 2007 George was awarded an OBE for services to local government and in 2014 the Durham County Council won the Local Government Chronicle Council of the Year award.

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