University of Aberdeen Takes you to the main page for this section

latest releases | archive

Sir Steve Redgrave honoured by Aberdeen

Sir Steve Redgrave is one of several leading figures from the fields of sport, business, the law, religion, literature and academia who will be honoured by the University of Aberdeen this week.

Sir Steve will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) at the University's summer graduation ceremonies, which run from Monday, July 2 to Friday, July 6. Others due to receive honorary doctorates include Scottish novelist Ali Smith, Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay and Athole Still, the sports and arts agent whose high profile clients include Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Also being honoured are His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz, who represented the Roman Catholic Church in some of the most crucial negotiations of 20th century international relations; Iain Gray, Managing Director and General Manager of Airbus UK; and Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, Vice-Chancellor at The University of Hong Kong and the internationally recognised geneticist responsible for identifying the defective gene that causes cystic fibrosis.

Professor C Duncan Rice, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University said he was looking forward to welcoming this year's distinguished honorary graduands.

"The University of Aberdeen is delighted to recognise the achievements of such distinguished and talented individuals. We welcome them all warmly to the University family as Honorary Graduates."

The full list of honorands at next week's ceremonies is as follows:

Monday, July 2 at 3pm

Sir Steve Redgrave (LLD - Doctor of Laws)

Britain's greatest Olympian

Sir Steve Redgrave is regarded as Britain's greatest Olympian, an ambassador for his sport and an inspiration to diabetes sufferers. By winning gold at the Sydney games in 2000 he became the only British athlete ever to have won five Gold Medals at five consecutive Olympic Games. Gold for the Coxed Four in Los Angeles in 1984 was followed by Gold in the Coxless Pairs at Seoul in 1988, Gold for the Coxless Pairs at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and for the Coxless Four in the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Sir Steve achieved this despite being diagnosed with diabetes in 1997. An active fund-raiser for diabetes research, he was elected Honorary Vice President of Diabetes UK by its Board of Trustees in November 2000.

Monday, July 2 at 3pm

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay (DHC – Doctor Honoris Causa)

Businessman and Philanthropist

Irvine Laidlaw was born in Keith to an established North east family in 1942.  A leading entrepreneur, Lord Laidlaw founded the Institute for International Research in 1973, personally building this business from a small newsletter business into a global leader in knowledge and skills transfer. By the time he disposed of it in 2005, it compromised 48 companies and 113 operating divisions.  Latterly he has become recognised for his charitable work.  His key areas of philanthropic interest are young adults and education, providing positive support for disadvantaged young people, and fostering partnerships between charities and organisations aimed at achieving those objectives.  He achieves this support for vulnerable young Scots through the Laidlaw Youth Trust, the charity he founded in 2003.

Monday, July 2 at 6.30pm

Professor Quentin Skinner (DLitt – Doctor of Letters)

Regius Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge

Professor Quentin Skinner is one of the United Kingdom's leading historians.  He has held the Regius Chair of Modern History at the University of Cambridge since 1996 and is regarded as one of the principal members of the influential 'Cambridge School' of the study of the history of political thought.  Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, most of Professor Skinner's career has been spent with the University of Cambridge.  In the mid 1970s he spent three formative years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, initially as an historian and latterly in the School of Social Science.  In 1978 he was appointed to the chair of Political Science at Cambridge University, and in 1996 he was appointed to his Regius chair.  Professor Skinner's historical writings have long been characterised by an interest in recovering the ideas of Renaissance republican authors.  His work in the 1970s and 1980s was principally concerned with the modern idea of the state.  At the beginning of the 1990s Professor Skinner turned towards the role of neo-classical rhetoric in early modern political theory.  More recently, he has been concerned with the history of liberty.

Monday, July 2 at 6.30pm

His Excellency Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz (LLD – Doctor of Laws)

Apostolic Nuncio

Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz Archbishop has spent his entire career in the Holy See's diplomatic service, representing the Roman Catholic Church in some of the most complex and crucial negotiations of 20th Century international relations.  Born in Almaden in Spain in 1937, he was ordained in 1964.  His Excellency subsequently entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1970 and served in the Pontifical Representations in Senegal and Scandinavia, and then in the Council of Public Affairs of the Church of the Secretariat of State of His Holiness in the Vatican.  He was appointed Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Cuba in 1988 and four years later Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Zaire.  In 1999 Archbishop Sainz was appointed Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the European Communities in Brussels.  Pope John Paul II appointed Archbishop Faustino Sainz Munoz as Papal Nuncio to Great Britain in December 2004. 

Tuesday, July 3 at 11am

Professor Paul Thompson (DLitt – Doctor of Letters)

Research Professor in Sociology, University of Essex

Professor Paul Thompson is a social historian and sociologist, internationally recognised as a pioneer of the use of oral history and life story interviews in social research.  He is Founder of the National Life Story Collection at the British Library, Founder Editor of the journal Oral History (from 1970) and of the Oral History Society.  Subsequently he became Founder of the National Life Story Collection at the British Library National Sound Archive (1987), now the world's leading oral history archive.  In 1994 he established Qualidata, the Economic and Social Research Council's action unit for archiving qualitative research fieldwork.  His book, The Voice of the Past, is the classic text on the oral history method.  The discipline of oral history is increasingly recognised for its significance in historiography.  If one person is known as the 'father' of oral history in Britain it is Professor Thompson.

Tuesday, July 3 at 3pm

Elish Angiolini QC (LLD - Doctor of Laws)

Lord Advocate

Elish Angiolini grew up in Glasgow and studied Law at the University of Strathclyde.  Immediately after graduation she joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and, following her traineeship, spent 8 years as a Depute Procurator Fiscal in Airdrie.  She was seconded to the Crown Office in 1992.  Working in the Lord Advocate's Secretariat, she developed an interest in improving the support offered to vulnerable victims and witnesses.  She subsequently served as Senior Depute Procurator Fiscal and Assistant Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow.  Ms Angiolini returned to the Crown office as Head of Policy in 1997, helping the department prepare for devolution.  She was also responsible for the department's preparations for the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998.  Elish Angiolini was appointed Regional Procurator Fiscal, Grampian, Highland and Islands in 2000.  Ms Angiolini served as Solicitor General for Scotland from 2001 becoming the first woman, the first Procurator Fiscal and the first solicitor to hold that post.  In 2006 she also became the first woman to serve as Lord Advocate, the country's most senior law officer.

Tuesday, July 3 at 6.30pm

Ali Smith (DLitt – Doctor of Letters)

Writer and Critic

Ali Smith is a much-praised writer.  Born in Inverness and a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, she has her roots in the north.  She is regularly nominated for literary awards.  Her first book, Free Love and Other Stories (1995), won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award.  Her first novel, Like, was published to critical acclaim in 1997.  Set in Scotland and Cambridge, the book tells the story of an enduring childhood friendship.  A second collection of short stories, Other Stories and Other Stories, was published in 1999.  Her second novel, Hotel World (2001), won the Encore Award, a Scottish Arts Council Book Award and the inaugural Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. It was also shortlisted for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Booker Prize for Fiction.  Her latest novel, The Accidental (2004), won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award.

Wednesday, July 4 at 11am

Professor Zhu Zuoyan (DSc – Doctor of Science)

Developmental Biologist and Vice President, National Natural Science Foundation, China

Professor Zuoyan Zhu is a distinguished researcher in fish cell and developmental biology and biotechnology.  A former member of staff of the University of Aberdeen, his career has been truly international.  He is a graduate of Peking University and the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  Between 1981 and 1991, he was successively a visiting scientist at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories in London, a research scientist at the Genetics Institute in Boston (USA), a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, and a research professor at the University of Maryland's Center of Marine Biotechnology.  He was subsequently Director of the Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.  Professor Zuoyan Zhu is currently Vice President of the National Natural Science Foundation of China.  He is a Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a Member of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He will also be the first mainland Chinese to receive an honorary degree.

Wednesday, July 4 at 3pm

Dr William Edelstein (DSc – Doctor of Science)


Dr William Edelstein is an eminent physicist who contributed substantially to the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as a practical, fast, and safe method of producing high quality images of the anatomy and function of the human body.  Between 1977 and 1980, Dr Edelstein was a Research Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Physics at the University of Aberdeen.  He was primary inventor of the "spin-warp" imaging method, a major breakthrough in MRI imaging and still the method used in MRI scanners world-wide to form clinical images.  The Aberdeen group performed the world's first whole-body MRI scan on a patient in August 1980.  The techniques pioneered in Aberdeen were so advanced that the very rapid blipped echo-planar MRI method, proposed by Dr Edelstein in 1979, would later form the basis of the functional brain imaging methods (fMRI) of the 1990s which led to a non-invasive method of "imaging thoughts".   In 1984 William Edelstein was named "One of America's brightest scientists under 40" by Science Digest magazine.  Widely recognised for his work on MRI, Dr Edelstein is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK) and a Fellow of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Wednesday, July 4 at 3pm

Athole Still (DHC – Doctor Honoris Causa)

Personal Manager, Sport/Opera

Athole Still, a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, has been described as an "Aberdonian Renaissance man".  He has enjoyed multiple careers as a swimmer, opera singer, journalist, sports commentator and television presenter and directs one of  Britain's leading sports and arts agencies.  From the age of 15, Athole Still swam for Britain or Scotland every year for the next decade and held several British records, was an Olympian and won a Silver Medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1958. In his mid-twenties he retired from swimming to become an opera singer.  He achieved success as a principal operatic tenor with the Glyndebourne International Festival and Scottish Opera.  His agency, Athole Still International, was established over two decades ago.  Through it, he provides personal management to high profile clients from sport, opera, popular music and television.  Sporting clients have included Alex Ferguson, Gordon Strachan, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Thursday, July 5 at 11am

Dr Lilian Leong (DSc – Doctor of Science)

President, Hong Kong College of Radiologists

A well-respected researcher and teacher, Dr Lilian Leong has made an unprecedented contribution to the profession of radiology in Hong Kong and Asia over two decades.  Dr Leong is a consultant radiologist in the Department of Radiology at Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong and an honorary clinical associate professor of the University of Hong Kong.  She is also a council member of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine.  Dr Leong has played an active role in professional matters throughout her career in radiology and has served in a number of the professional bodies including the Hong Kong Society of Diagnostic Radiologists, the Asian & Oceanian Society of Radiology and the Radiology Outreach Foundation.  Dr Leong became the Founding President of the Hong Kong College of Radiologists in 1992.  She is devoted to the advancement of radiology as a major component of modern healthcare in Asia.  In doing so, she has assumed a leadership role in building international and domestic relationships to promote radiology.  In 2006 the International Society of Radiology presented Dr Leong with the prestigious Beclere Award. 

Thursday, July 5 at 11am

Dame Suzi Leather (DHC – Doctor Honoris Causa)

Chair, Charity Commission

A long serving and dedicated public servant, Dame Suzi Leather has been an advocate of the interests and well-being of consumers for over two decades.  Her career has included membership of an extraordinary number of public bodies, all of which play vital roles in promoting the welfare of the citizens of the United Kingdom.  In 2006 she was appointed Chair of the Charity Commission.  Previously she had been Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and the School Food Trust.  Dame Suzi is also a former Chair of the Exeter and District Community NHS Trust.  She was the first Deputy Chair of the Food Standards Agency and a member of the Royal Society's Inquiry into Infectious Diseases of Livestock.  Suzi Leather has an extensive academic background in political sciences, social work and probation. She retains an interest in academe through a number of honorary lectureships and was involved in establishing, at the University of Exeter, one of the first ever bioethics courses in the UK.   

Thursday, July 5 at 3pm

Iain Gray (DSc – Doctor of Science)

Managing Director and General Manager of Airbus UK

Iain Gray is a distinguished engineering graduate of the University of Aberdeen.  He is Managing Director and General Manager of Airbus UK, which designed and manufactured the wings of the new Airbus A380, a double-decker super-jumbo which will redefine long-haul air travel in the next several decades.  Iain Gray began working for British Aerospace in 1979, rising through the ranks in its structures, loads and stress engineering sections before being promoted to Engineering Director in 2000.  When Airbus UK was formed as a stand-alone company in 2001 he became its Senior Vice President Engineering before taking up his present role in 2004.  Iain Gray is a Chartered Engineer, and a Fellow and Council Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Thursday, July 5 at 3pm

Professor Elmer Rees (DSc – Doctor of Science)


Professor Elmer Rees is an eminent mathematician with publications in areas ranging from topology, differential geometry, algebraic geometry, linear algebra and Morse theory to robotics. He was born in Llandybie and grew up in Wales. Professor Rees studied at St Catharine's College, Cambridge gaining a BA before moving on to Warwick for his PhD.  His career had taken him to Hull, the Institute for Advanced Study, Swansea and St Catherine's College, Oxford.  He held a chair at the University of Edinburgh from 1979 until 2005.  Professor Rees is currently the Director of the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, a partnership between Bristol University and the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ.  In the last 20 years, Professor Rees has also been one of the United Kingdom's most active and successful administrators in professional mathematics. In particular, he was one of the prime movers in establishing the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences in Edinburgh.  He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1982.

Thursday, July 5 at 6.30pm

Professor Derek Ogston (LLD – Doctor of Laws)

Former Senior Vice Principal, University of Aberdeen

Professor Derek Ogston's distinguished medical career began with House Officer posts at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and a Research Fellowship in the Department of Medicine.  He spent the next three decades on the staff of the University, including a period as Regius Professor of Physiology and latterly as Professor of Clinical Medicine.  He acted as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice-Principal for 10 years, four spent as Senior Vice-Principal.  He also held special responsibility for the University's Quincentenary celebrations.  Professor Ogston's public service has included the General Medical Council with a period as Vice-Chairman of the Health Committee, the Grampian Health Board as Vice-Chairman, the Governing Body of the Rowett Research Institute, Working Parties of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Aberdeen Gomel Trust.  He is a graduate of the University many times over.  In retirement, he has pursued further degree study, served as General Council Assessor to the University Court, and established the Ogston Prize for History of Art and the Ogston Music Scholarship.

Friday, July 6 at 11am

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui (DSc -  Doctor of Science)

Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hong Kong

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui is a distinguished and internationally recognised geneticist.  Prior to taking up his present appointment as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong in 2002, Professor Tsui was Geneticist-in-Chief at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Head of the Genetics and Genomic Biology Programme of its Research Institute.  He was also the holder of the H E Sellers Chair in Cystic Fibrosis and University Professor at the University of Toronto.  He received international acclaim in 1989 when he identified the defective gene that causes cystic fibrosis. Professor Tsui has received numerous awards.  He was named Distinguished Scientist of the Medical Research Council of Canada, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a Member of Academia Sinica, and an Honorary Fellow of World Innovation Foundation. Professor Lap-Chee Tsui was also awarded the Order of Canada (Officer) and Order of Ontario.

Friday, July 6 at 11am

Professor Anthony Seaton CBE (DSc – Doctor of Science)

Emeritus Professor of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Aberdeen

Professor Anthony Seaton has enjoyed a long and distinguished academic career in respiratory and occupational medicine. After a short period as Assistant Professor of Medicine in West Virginia and a number of years as a consultant chest physician in Cardiff, he became Director of the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh and was responsible for guiding it from dependence on the national cohort to a fully independent self-funded charitable institution.  In 1988 he became Professor and Head of Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Aberdeen.  Among many achievements, he has served as chairman on the Department of the Environment's expert panel on air quality standards; a member of the Department of Health's committee on medical aspects of air pollution from; and was the president of the British Thoracic Society. Throughout his career he has been greatly involved in defining the associations between exposure and outcomes in terms of health effects, resulting in re-defining air quality standards in the UK as well as contributing to a number of occupational standards.  Professor Seaton is currently an honorary senior consultant at the Edinburgh Institute of Occupational Medicine and remains actively involved in research.

The University of Aberdeen Graduation Ceremonies will take place at Marischal College, Broad Street, from Monday, July 2 – Friday, July 6. There will be a total of 17 ceremonies over this week at times of 11am, 3pm and 6.30pm.

Members of the media wishing to attend any of the ceremonies will require a ticket. Please contact Patrick McFall, Communications Office, on 01224 272013 to arrange.

All of the University's Honorary Doctoral Degrees are of equal standing: each, however, has different criteria for their award, as outlined below. The Senate may confer the following honorary degrees honoris causa:

Doctor of Laws (LLD) , for those who have made an outstanding and distinctive contribution to legal science, through legal research or in the practice of law; or who have made an outstanding contribution to public life, at either national or international level.

Doctor Honoris Causa (DHC), for candidates for whom it was considered appropriate to award an Honorary Doctoral Degree.

Doctors of Letters (DLitt), Science (DSc), Music (DMus), or Divinity (DD), for those who have made outstanding and distinctive contributions to their subject, at national or international level, either through research or as policy leaders within their profession at national level.


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Tuesday 26th of June 2007

Ref: 4105HONGRAD

<< back

University Switchboard: +44 (0)1224 272000
Enquiries about studying at The University of Aberdeen should be directed to