News archive 2008
Archbishop Tutu awarded honorary degree03 Dec 2008, PR 256/08
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, former Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, King’s Fellow and alumnus, has finally received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of London, some 26 years later than intended.
The honour was conferred upon Archbishop Tutu by the Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, at a ceremony held in the Senate House yesterday evening (2 December 2008) to celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of the University of London in 1836.
The Principal of King’s College London, Professor Rick Trainor, presented Archbishop Tutu to the Chancellor and delivered the citation, at the ceremony.
After accepting the honour, Desmond Tutu, who studied theology at King’s (BD, AKC and MTh) and returned as Visiting Professor of Post-Conflict Societies in 2004, gave a response on behalf of all the honorary graduates, thanking ‘this splendid institution for conferring them with its highest accolade’. He recalled his time at King’s and in London with great affection and also as a time when he and his wife, Leah, were able to regain their self esteem which was lost as a pernicious consequence of living under racial oppression.
He spoke of King’s College London being a ‘superb instrument for cultivating proper scepticism’ and helping one ‘to distinguish between what was properly authoritative and not merely authoritarian’. King’s, he said, ‘prepared one for future work which I might not have been able to execute in quite the same way had I not had the experience of living and being educated here.’ He thanked King’s and London for that.
In his speech Professor Trainor remarked: ‘I am delighted to say the conferment of this degree upon Archbishop Tutu is a historic occasion, while also noting with regret that it is one that is being enacted some 26 years later than intended. The University in fact wished to honour Desmond Tutu in 1982. At that time, however, his passport had been confiscated by the South African authorities and he was unable to leave the country. This much-belated award honours someone who is very close to our hearts in the University and particularly at King’s.’
He continued: ‘We honour Archbishop Tutu as a priest who has given us his formidably intelligent guidance on moral issues and for his example of a life of profound Christian spirituality. Above all, we revere him as someone whose faith in God enables him to love all human beings as the children of God, and to respect them without reference to race or colour.’
Together with Archbishop Tutu five others were honoured to mark the anniversary of foundation, including two people with very close connections with King’s: Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Professor Sir Michael Rutter.
Leading British contemporary composer and Henry Purcell Professor of Composition at King’s College London (1994-2001) Sir Harrison Birtwistle CH, was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Music. His major works include Punch and Judy and The Mask of Orpheus. He was described by Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, as ‘without question one of the greatest living composers, and one of the most significant figures in contemporary music of the past half-century.’
Sir Michael Rutter, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Science (Medicine)
and acclaimed by Professor Peter Kopelman, Principal of St George’s, as ‘a clinical academic who is widely regarded as the “father of child psychiatry”.’
Honorary degrees were also conferred upon: Lord Lieutenant of Greater London and former Lord Mayor, Alderman Sir David Brewer CMG – Doctor of Science (Economics); former Anglican Primate of All Ireland, The Right Reverend The Lord Eames of Armagh – Doctor of Divinity; and archaeologist Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn FBA – Doctor of Literature; Psychiatry’.
Sir Graeme Davies, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, comments: ‘Foundation Day is one of the highlights of the University calendar and reflects the diversity, vibrancy and excellence of the federal University. I am delighted to see this year’s honorary degrees awarded to six individuals who each represent the highest achievement in their particular field.’
[Image: Chancellor of the University of London, HRH The Princess Royal and Archbishop Desmond Tutu taken by Picture Partnership.]
Notes to editors
Foundation Day is the flagship event of the University of London at which the Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, presides. The ceremony is attended by staff, students and those with long-standing connections to the University.
The first honorary degrees were awarded on 24 June 1903 at a ceremony held at the Royal Albert Hall. Among the recipients of this honour was the current Chancellor’s great grandfather, the future George V. Down the decades, this accolade has been bestowed on a wide range of eminent individuals in both academic and non-academic fields. Among the list of famous signatures in the Register of Honorary Graduates is Winston Churchill, T S Eliot, Henry Moore, Margot Fonteyn and Judi Dench.
King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has 19,700 students from more than 150 countries, and 5,400 employees. King’s has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The College is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of approximately £450 million. An investment of £500 million has been made in the redevelopment of its estate.
King’s has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, social sciences, the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – a total unsurpassed by any other university.
Melanie Gardner, Senior Public Relations Officer,
Public Relations Department, King’s College London.
Tel: 020 7848 3073; email email@example.com
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