Durham University awards honorary degrees to “inspirational” figures

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“Inspirational” figures from educational, media, human rights, education, conservation and business spheres will be honoured by Durham University during Summer congregation in the historic Durham Cathedral. 

According to Durham University, honorary graduates are rewarded based on “the highest levels of achievement in their spheres of activity and reflect our inspirational Durham community […] act[ing] as a great example to our students as they set out on their own paths into the world.”

They are awarded based on nominations by University staff and approved by the University’s senate. Honorary degrees are conferred during Winter or Summer Congregation ceremonies when thousands of Durham University students officially graduate. 

Prominent writer Hunter Davies OBE, broadcaster and author of the only authorised biography of The Beatles will be awarded a Doctor of Letters. Reacting to his award, the former editor of the Sunday Times, Mr Davies states: “Obviously, I am over the moon. I could not possibly be sick as a parrot, could I, as being at Durham, editing Palatinate and being Senior Man of Castle, was probably about the best fun in my long-legged life.”

Our summer honorary graduates are a shining inspiration to all our community, achieving at the highest levels of their professions while effecting positive change on our society and culture globally, nationally and regionally

Prof Karen o’brien

Co-founder of the Stemettes social initiative Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and Dr Margaret Bradshaw MBE, County Durham botanist and conservationist will both be awarded a Doctor of Science degree. Dr Dalee Sambo Dorough is among those to be awarded honorary degrees, being made a Doctor of Civil Law for her work with the United Nations, advocating for Alaska Native and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. 

Those who will also be awarded honorary degrees are Durham Alumni such as  businessman James Timpson OBE, Chief Executive of Timpson Group and Chair of the Prison Reform Trust and the University of Oxford’s Bodley Librarian Richard Ovenden OBE. Commenting on being awarded a Doctor of Science degree, Mr Timpson says: “Durham is a city that is dear to my heart. […] The University is a life-changing institution that I’m proud to be part of.” Mr Ovenden, recipient of a Doctor of Letters degree, also describes his fondness for Durham, calling his time at university a “life-changing experience”. 

Commenting on the honorary degrees, Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University, said: “Our summer honorary graduates are a shining inspiration to all our community, achieving at the highest levels of their professions while effecting positive change on our society and culture globally, nationally and regionally […] and we are proud to call several of them our alumni […] their outstanding contributions deserve to be recognised.”

Image: Tim Packer

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