We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Durham University News


Graduation Success

(30 June 2003)

The University of Durham confers degrees on nearly 3,000 graduates this week at Durham Cathedral. The city’s most prominent building is staging 12 ceremonies over three days, involving a record number of graduates.

There will be four ceremonies each day from Wednesday 2 July to Friday 4 July, which will be timetabled around Cathedral services and allow time in between so that visitors can still look round.

At some ceremonies, the University also confers honorary degrees. Among this year’s recipients are the recently retired Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, a top British cancer specialist, the Chief Executive of the Eden Project, the leader of one of the world’s biggest companies and a top charity lawyer. (See below for biographical summaries on all five men.)

Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor said, “We are delighted to celebrate the hard work and success of all our students and to welcome our distinguished honorary graduates into the University”.

The annual three-day period of summer Congregations forms the colourful climax for years of study, with hundreds of parents, other relatives and friends joining staff of the University in celebrating success. The graduates and staff in academic hoods and gowns will fill Palace Green with bustle and colour throughout each day.

Media Opportunities

Thursday 3 July:
Sir Nick Scheele and Peter Mimpriss will be available for photographs in the Cloisters, Durham Cathedral on Thursday 3 July. Sir Nick Scheele at 11.45 a.m. and Peter Mimpriss at 2.45 p.m.

Friday 4 July Rt Rev Michael Turnbull, Sir Paul Nurse and Mr Tim Smit will all be available for photographs in the Cloisters, Durham Cathedral at 10 a.m..

Further information:

Claire West, Public Relations, tel: 0191 334 6074 or Jan Cawood, Public Relations Officer, tel: 0191 334 0018
Notes to Editors
  • The number of graduations has almost doubled over the past 10 years, as degree programmes have expanded both in Durham and on the University’s Queen’s Campus, Stockton which has over 1,700 full-time students.
  • Congregations have traditionally been on "home ground", in Durham Castle, which is one of the University’s colleges, and also since 1995 at Stockton Parish Church. The event has now outgrown the previous venues and for the second year running is being held at Durham Cathedral.

Biographical details

DCL Sir Nick Scheele
President and Chief Operating Officer of Ford Motor Company – the world’s 5th largest company

Second only to Bill Ford Jr, Sir Nick started at Ford in 1966 as a buyer after gaining his BA in German at Durham. “Mr Fix-it” is best known in the UK for turning around the fortunes of Jaguar cars, bought by Ford in 1989. After improving quality, doubling sales and retaining Jaguar’s reputation as a top provider of luxury cars during the 1990s, he became Chairman of Ford Europe in 2000. When Jacques Nasser was forced to resign as Chief Executive in 2001 Scheele moved to North America to lead Ford globally. He is quoted as seeing Ford’s future priorities to be in “alternative modes of transport and methods of cleaning air, for example hybrid electric vehicles”. Devoted to children’s welfare, community relations and industrial regeneration, he is a member of many charity boards including being a life member of the NSPCC. Sir Nick maintains a relationship with the University, keen to enhance Durham sporting facilities. He enjoys reading, classical music, tennis and squash. Sir Nick Scheele was awarded a knighthood in 1998 for services to British exports.

DCL Peter Mimpriss CVO
Respected Commentator on Charity and Tax Law

Peter Mimpriss was a partner of the law firm Allen and Overy from 1972 until his retirement in October 2002. During this time he built up an outstanding reputation in the fields of charity and tax law. He has held trusteeships and directorships of several major national charities including: Leeds Castle Foundation 1980-; Weston Park Foundation 1986-98; Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust 1988-2000; The Prince's Trust 1998-; Institute for Philanthropy 2000-; World Trade Center Disaster Fund 2001-;The Prince’s Regeneration through Heritage Trust 2002-. He was University Solicitor, University of London 1994-2002; co-founder and chairman Charity Law Association 1992-97; and chairman Chariguard Group of Common Investment Funds from 1994-2000. In October 2002 he became Director of the Edmond J Safra Philanthropic Foundation. He was made Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 2001.

DD Rt Rev Michael Turnbull
Bishop of Durham 1994-2003

The Bishop of Durham is also the Visitor of the University, in addition to his pastoral and leadership roles in the Church. Bishop Michael retired this year after nine years at Durham, and before that, six years as Bishop of Rochester. He was Chairman of the “Turnbull Commission” which reorganised the National Institutions of the Church of England and subsequently was Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council’s Ministry Division. In Durham he has been responsible for take the Diocese into a new era of Clergy deployment and pastoral delivery. He has been active in the House of Lords as the lead bishop on constitutional affairs and has been prominent in the movement towards regional government in the North East.

He is a graduate of Oxford University, trained for ordination in Durham, was Chaplain at York University and has an honorary D.Litt from the University of Greenwich. He is an Honorary Fellow of St Chad’s College, Durham.

DSc Sir Paul Nurse
Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK and Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine

Sir Paul Nurse is one of the outstanding British Scientists of the Late Twentieth Century, with a career spanning thirty years. He is best known for his contribution to the discovery of the mechanism which controls cell division in most living organisms, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001. He has also been awarded the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Prize and Medal, as well as sharing the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. He is currently the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, and prior to this spent six years as the Director General of Imperial Cancer Research Fund. He is also head of the Cell Cycle Laboratory at the CR-UK London Research Institute, where research has greatly enhanced the understanding of the nature of cancer cells. At the end of this year he will step down from CR-UK to become President of the Rockefeller University in New York. He received a knighthood for services to cancer research and cell biology in 1999 and his work has brought him a reputation as one of the world's leading scientists: according to the Sun newspaper he is 'the David Beckham of Science'.

DCL Timothy Bartiel Smit
Co-founder and Chief Executive of the Eden Project

After graduating at the University of Durham in Archaeology and Anthropology, Tim Smit started a successful career in the record business. In 1987 he moved to Cornwall, where he stumbled upon his first major project, the restoration of a forgotten Victorian estate internationally known as ‘The lost gardens of Heligan’, which now attracts 300,000 visitors each year. His next venture was the Eden Project, also hailed as the eighth wonder of the world, which contains two ‘biomes’. These – the world’s biggest greenhouses - are honeycomb domes, more than 150 feet high containing whole ecosystems of trees and plants from all over the planet. The project has hosted already 1.5 million visitors since its official opening and is becoming an important employer in Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset. With the Eden Project, Tim Smit wants to give visitors a greater understanding of the world’s environmental problems by learning how plants underpin the very basis of life. He received a Special Award in the South West Region Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2001.

Share this story