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Durham University

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 were awarded at Winter Congregation 2019

Mr Gordon Bacon (OBE), Master of Arts on Thursday 10 January at 12noon

Gordon Bacon, OBE, spent two decades as a police officer in Durham and seven years investigating corruption in Hong Kong. After leaving the police force, Gordon led a UK based children's charity - frequently braving the frontlines of war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2000, Gordon directed a programme to identify, through DNA, those who had died during the war, including those massacred at Srebenica. As an emergency aid worker, Gordon co-ordinated a response in Sri Lanka to the 2004 tsunami and he established an emergency aid programme following the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar. He was awarded an OBE and presented with the European Commission Task Force Medal for his work in the Balkans during the wars.

Dr Neil Hunt, Doctor of Science on Friday 11 January at 10am

After graduating from Durham University's Collingwood College with a degree in Computer Science and Electronics in 1983, Neil Hunt went on to become the first Chief Product Officer of Netflix. One of the world's largest and most recognisable streaming platforms, Netflix has over 100 million members across the globe. Outside of his role as the company's Chief Product Officer, from which he stepped down last June, Neil was also a founding member of Durham's Computer Science Department's External Advisory Board. Here, he helped create a brand new scholarship for Women in Technology, designed to help attract more talented young women to the Department of Computer Science at the University. Neil is now serving as CEO of Curai, a Palo Alto health-technology startup using AI/ML to scale the world's best healthcare for every human being.

Mr Damon de Lazslo, Master of Science on Friday 11 January at 12noon

The longstanding Chairman of Harwin Engineering Plc., which manufactures electronic components, Damon de Laszlo holds a broad array of executive and non-executive positions, both in the UK and USA. Chairman of the Economic Research Council for nearly forty years, he is also Patron of the Treloar School and College, for students with physical disabilities, as well as Chairman of the de Laszlo Foundation, which provides bursaries and research grants for Science, Art and Education. Damon is a Patron of City & Guilds of London Art School and sits on the Advisory Board of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters.