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Archbishop of York to Present Desmond Tutu With An Honorary Degree

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Tuesday 13th November 2012

Hundreds of York St John University students will be celebrating their graduation alongside some inspirational honorary graduates in York Minster between 14 and 16 November 2012.

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


Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor David Fleming, said: “Graduation is a wonderful time for students to celebrate their achievements. We always strive to inspire our graduates and are delighted to be awarding honorary degrees to six exceptional individuals, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ian McMillan, Glynn Ryland, Julia Unwin, Sandi Toksvig and Dr Elizabeth White. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to honour and celebrate the contributions made to society by each of these remarkable people and I’m certain that our graduates will be hugely inspired by all of their accomplishments.”


The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws, alongside the Universities Education and Theology graduates on Thursday 15 November, in recognition of his incredible contribution to society.  Known around the world as a greatly respected anti-apartheid activist, peace campaigner and champion of reconciliation, Archbishop Tutu, who recently celebrated his 81st birthday, has been described as ‘South Africa’s moral conscience’. He was 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.


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 is one of the country’s best-known contemporary poets and was this year’s National Poetry Day Spokespoet. In addition to his many books for adults and children, which include prose and plays, he appears regularly on television and radio and contributes articles to several national and regional newspapers. 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 the York based 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.



Notes to editors:

York St John University

Founded in 1841, York St John University has a long and proud tradition as a distinguished education provider. Professor David Fleming was installed as Vice Chancellor in 2010.  The University has around 6,000 students studying on a range of courses in faculties of Arts, Health and Life Sciences, Education and Theology, and the York St John Business School. Through its faculties, York St John has developed many partnerships with practitioners, business and representative bodies both within York and the wider region. In addition, the University has invested over £90 million in its facilities for students and partners in its city centre campus since 2001.

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