The Olympics, Weirdstones, and New York all feature in the Honorary Degrees to be given by the University of Warwick at its Winter degree ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. They include: acclaimed, prize winning Cheshire author Alan Garner; John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA); and John Sexton, President of New York University.
Brief biographies of all three graduands now follow in alphabetical order along with the title of the degree they will receive and the time of the media opportunity when they will be available for interview and photography etc. In each case journalists should come to the Box Office at Warwick Arts Centre and ask for Peter Dunn or phone him on his mobile 07767 655860 to say that you have arrived.
John Armitt CBE
||Hon DSc (Honorary Doctor of Science)|
||12.15pm - Wednesday 19th January 201|
John Armitt is Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) – the body responsible for constructing the facilities, venues and infrastructure for the 2012 London Olympics. He was appointed to the ODA in September 2007, bringing to the post extensive experience in building, civil engineering and industrial construction markets. He is also Chairman of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
John trained in Portsmouth as a civil engineer and in 1966 took his first job as a graduate engineer with John Laing Construction. During his 27 years with the firm, he was involved in a number of important projects (such as the construction of the Sizewell B Nuclear Power Station), ultimately rising to become Chairman of their International and Civil Engineering Divisions in 1987. From 1993 to 1997 he was Chief Executive of Union Railways, the company responsible for the development of the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which opened in 2007. In 1997, he joined Costain as Chief Executive, moving to Railtrack, plc in December 2001. In 2002, he became Chief Executive of Network Rail, which took over the running of Britain’s rail infrastructure and embarked on a huge programme of track renewal and enhancement work, as well as the biggest public safety campaign in the rail industry’s history.
In 1996, he was awarded the CBE for his contribution to the rail industry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Civil Engineers, and is also Chairman of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Alan Garner OBE
||Hon DLitt (Honorary Doctor of Letters)|
||12.15pm - Thursday 20th January 2011|
Alan Garner is an acclaimed, prize winning Cheshire author whose novels are not only firmly established as classics of English literature but are also loved and treasured by both children and adults. Last year, 2010, marked the 50th anniversary of his first published novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The book has never been out of print and has been enjoyed by several generations of children.
Alan was born in Cheshire and grew up in Alderley Edge. His family roots are in Cheshire and the area around Alderley Edge, where he lives now, and that area has greatly influenced his writing. Many of his works, including The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, and more recently Thursbitch, draw on the legends and geography of Alderley Edge.
His first three books - The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and Elidor – were fantasy, and marketed for children. However he has also written acclaimed novels that are aimed at adults such as Thursbitch (2003). His fourth book, The Owl Service (1968), was also aimed at children. It won both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal and established him as one of the UK’s leading writers.
The Owl Service was also made into a TV series broadcast in the winter of 1969-1970 for which Alan Garner himself wrote the scripts. It remains one of the most haunting children’s TV series ever made. An audio dramatisation of The Owl Service was also transmitted by BBC Radio 4 in 2000. Many of his other works have been adapted for television and in 1981 he himself made a film, Image and Landscape, which won first prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.
His other novels include Red Shift (1973), Strandloper (1996) and Thursbitch (2003); he has also written collections of short stories – The Stone Book Quartet received the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association (USA) in 1996 and The Voice That Thunders, a collection of essays and lectures, was published in 1997. In 2001, Alan Garner was awarded the OBE for services to children’s literature.
Dr John Sexton
||Hon LLD (Honorary Doctor of Laws)|
||4.15pm - Wednesday 19th January 2011|
John Sexton is President of New York University (NYU), a position which he has held since 2002. Previously, he was Dean of the NYU School of Law - one of the USA’s top five law schools - and until 2008 also served as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Dr Sexton ‘s own higher education took place at Fordham University, where he obtained a BA in History, an MA in comparative religion and a PhD in the history of American religion. He holds a JD from Harvard Law School, where he also worked for the Harvard Law Review. He was Law Clerk to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Warren Burger, and is a former president of the Association of American Law Schools. He has co-authored the most widely used legal textbook in the United States – Civil Procedure: Cases and Materials, and his many other books and articles include reflections on the nature of higher education and the challenges currently facing universities.
Dr Sexton’s tenure of the presidency of NYU has seen a significant increase in applications, and the transformation of NYU into a Global Network University. Ten international academic centres have been set up and in September 2010 NYU opened a campus in Abu Dhabi to its first undergraduates. Dr Sexton – who continues to teach on the undergraduate programme in New York – has also begun an ambitious fundraising programme to increase the University’s endowment through the Campaign for NYU.
John Sexton is also a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur of France.
For further information please contact:
Peter Dunn, Head of Communications, Communications Office, University House,
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 8UW, United Kingdom
Tel: 024 7652 3708 Mobile: 077 6765 5860
PR 6 18th January 2011