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Reverend Desmond Tutu gets honour from St John


9:57am 26th June 2012
(Updated 10:04am 26th June 2012)

York St John University has today announced the six exceptional individuals who will be awarded honorary degrees during its graduation ceremonies at York Minster on 14 - 16 November this year. 

The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu, Ian McMillan, Glynn Ryland, Julia Unwin, Sandi Toksvig and Dr Elizabeth White. 

Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor David Fleming, said:

“”We are delighted to announce the six recipients of our 2012 honorary degrees.  Our graduation ceremonies not only give us the opportunity to reward our students for their hard work, but also to reflect on the 171 year history and recent successes of York St John University.  In a year that has seen us grow in student numbers, it is wonderful to have the opportunity to honour and celebrate the contributions made to society by each of these exceptional people.” 

The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws, alongside the Universities Education and Theology graduates, in recognition of his incredible contribution to society.  Desmond Tutu was the first black South African Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa.  Having risen to worldwide fame in the 1980s as a central figure in South Africa’s fight against apartheid, he has used his high profile to campaign and fight numerous causes including AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.

Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984; the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986; the Pacem in Terris Award in 1987; the Sydney Peace Prize in 1999; the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Yorkshire poet, broadcaster, commentator and programme maker, Ian McMillan, will be awarded with an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University on Wednesday 14 November.  Ian has been an inspiration to many people in Yorkshire during his regular visits to schools, theatres, art centres, prisons and literary festivals where he shares his humour and passion for writing. 

Ian appears regularly on television and radio and contributes articles to several national and regional newspapers. His poems have been published in many magazines and newspapers and broadcast on numerous television and radio shows. Ian also hosts the arts programme The Verb, which is broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Glynn Ryland, industry talent manager for Channel 4, will also receive a Doctor of Letters from the University on Wednesday 14 November.  Glynn has strong links with York St John University having studied Television, Film and Drama at the campus, graduating in 1992. 

Glynn’s impressive CV includes working as creative manager worldwide for Universal Studios Network, creative director for NBC Universal Global Networks (UK) and partnerships manager for BBC Academy/BBC Outreach.  During his career he also worked for seven years as a freelance producer/director with clients including BBC1, ITV Network Promotions and the Movie Channel.

Julia Unwin, OBE and CBE, Chief Executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, will be attending the morning ceremony on Thursday 15 November where she will be presented with a Doctor of Laws in recognition of her extensive work in the voluntary sector.  Julia has made a huge contribution through her work and research on the role, governance and funding of the voluntary sector.  Julia was awarded an OBE in 2000 for Services to the Housing Corporation and a CBE in 2006 as Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency for Services to Consumers.

On Friday 16 November, Sandi Toksvig, comedienne, author and presenter on British radio and television will be awarded with a Doctor of Letters.  Sandi was born in Copenhagen, Denmark.  She graduated from Cambridge University with a first class degree.  Sandi is well known for appearing on many Radio 4 programmes, she presented the travel programme Excess Baggage for ten years and is the current chair of The News Quiz.  Her career has blended the worlds of theatre, television and radio in roles as diverse as Whose Line is it Anyway? QI, Big Night Out at the Little Palace Theatre (writer and performer) Pocket Dream (co-writer and performer) and as one of the original members of the Comedy Store Players.

Sandi is passionate about education and has recently been installed as Chancellor of Portsmouth University.  Sandi has a special connection to York St John University through her daughter who attended and graduated with a BA Honours in Film and Television Production in 2011. 

Also being honoured by York St John University is Dr Elizabeth White who will receive a Doctor of Health Sciences on Friday 16 November.  Dr Elizabeth White has been Head of Research and Development at the College of Occupational Therapists since 2002. Her remit includes the broad scope of knowledge management, specifically in relation to the strategic promotion of occupational therapy R&D, research governance, library and information services and information management.

Elizabeth has responsibility for the development of the United Kingdom Occupational Therapy Research Foundation, building research capacity within the profession and facilitating research activity amongst the College’s membership. She is a member of the Research Forum for Allied Health Professions and represents this group on the Core Executive of the Allied Health Professions Research Network.

Honorary Degrees will be presented at the graduation ceremonies in York Minster by either York St John’s Chancellor, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, or by Vice Chancellor, Professor David Fleming, in front of an audience of graduands, their families and friends, and staff and guests of the University.

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