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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 Winter Congregation 2018

Wendy Shepherd, Doctor of Civil Law on Thursday 11 January 2018 at 10.00am

Wendy Shepherd has devoted decades to improving the situation of children, young people and vulnerable adults who have experienced sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking. Born on Teesside, she recently retired after 25 years leading the Barnardo’s Sexual Exploitation Children’s Outreach Service (SECOS), which received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2004. She received the Diana Award for supporting child participation in service delivery in 2015 and Lifetime Achievement Award from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland in 2016. She has advised on research from Durham University’s School of Applied Social Sciences and facilitated placements for Durham students at Barnardo’s.

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Chris Terrill, Honorary Doctor of Science on Friday 12 January 2018 at 10.00am

Dr Chris Terrill is a pioneering anthropologist, adventurer, author and filmmaker. He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his film Ape Trade and a Royal Television Society Award for Innovation for his series Soho Stories. After 21 years at the BBC he set up his own company, Uppercut Films, in 2004 focusing on communities in conflict zones or threatened by natural hazards. These include warring factions in Afghanistan’s Helmand Valley, Islamic militants in Africa and the Sami reindeer nomads of northern Norway. He holds a joint honours degree in Anthropology and Geography from Durham University and maintains close links with the Anthropology Department.

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Jonathan Ruffer, Doctor of Letters on Friday 12 January 2018 at 12.00noon

Jonathan Ruffer is an investment banker, art collector and philanthropist.He grew up in North Yorkshire, read English at Cambridge, trained as a barrister, and then moved into the investment world, setting up Ruffer LLP in 1994. In 2012, he purchased a series of paintings by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, as well as 900 year-old Auckland Castle where they have been housed for more than 250 years. To keep the paintings for the people of the North East and beyond and give them access to the beautiful Castle, Jonathan established The Auckland Castle Trust - now known as The Auckland Project. The charity is transforming Auckland Castle into an arts, faith and heritage destination of international significance. He also leads the Eleven Arches Trust, a sister charity, that produces the acclaimed annual open-air theatrical production Kynren - an epic tale of England. With investment of more than £130 million the Project boosts visitor numbers, creates opportunities for employment and serves as a catalyst for the revitalisation of Bishop Auckland. Jonathan is also a Fellow of St John’s College.