Durham University awards four honorary degrees

By Clara Gaspar

Durham University has awarded honorary degrees to a Naval Commander, a High Court Judge, an Anthropology Professor, and a leading historian.

Commander David Childs, the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Andrew McFarlane, and Professors Veena Das and John Morrill joined 4,400 graduating students at Durham Cathedral during the University’s Summer Congregation ceremonies.

Professor Morrill and Commander Childs were awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt), Professor Das was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science, and the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice McFarlane was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Civil Law.

Commander David Childs CBE has served in the Royal Navy for almost 30 years. A former Director of the trust for the Mary Rose battleship, Childs is a frequent visitor to Durham University and has delivered both student and public lectures.

Commander Childs said he was “very surprised” and “hugely delighted” to receive an honorary degree from the University.

He stated: “this honour will mark a continuing link between the National Memorial Arboretum and Durham University, in particular, the Centre for Death and Life Studies which is contributing so much to our understanding of remembrance and memorialisation.”

A former law student at Durham University, Sir Andrew Ewart McFarlane, was also the recipient of an honorary degree. Appointed a High Court judge in 2005 and a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2011, he has been recognised for his longstanding and invaluable contribution to the family justice system.

Sir Andrew co-founded the Durham Revue, was President of Durham Students’ Union and is closely involved with Durham Law School. In 2012, the Lord Justice McFarlane Prize was created to reward undergraduate students taking the LLB module on Law of Family Relationships. He also is an active member of Collingwood College.

An honorary degree was also awarded to Professor Veena Das, a Professor of Anthropology John Hopkins University. Professor Das is a prominent academic in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. She has previously lectured and run workshops at Durham University.

Also attending congregation was Professor John Morrill, an expert on the early modern history of Britain and Ireland and founding editor of The Bibliography of British and Irish History. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, and since 2015 Professor Morrill has been a Visiting Professor in Durham University’s History Department.

Durham University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge, said: “Congregation is a very special occasion for our students who, through their dedication, intelligence and ingenuity, will take their place among the most sought after graduates in the world.

“It is always enriching and inspiring to see them receive their degrees, and I wish them every success for their next adventure.”

Photograph: Durham University

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