Former oil and gas chief, conductor and UN special representative honoured by University

Among those to be honoured at the University of Aberdeen's winter graduation ceremonies this week are a former Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK, the Artistic Director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland and a United Nations special representative.

A leading authority on Scottish cultural heritage, and a Cathedral Provost who has made a huge contribution to public life in Scotland will also receive honorary degrees. In addition to awarding five honorary degrees, the University will also present its first ever award to a Benefactor to the University award.

The first of the honorary degrees, a Doctorate of Honoris Causa, will be presented to Malcolm Webb on Thursday, November 26. Mr Webb served as Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK until earlier this year. During his time at Oil & Gas UK, he led the organisation through a major change process to make it the leading trade association open to all companies within the UK offshore oil and gas industry.

At the same ceremony, Christopher Bell will be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music. Mr Bell is currently the Artistic Director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland and also serves as Chorus Director of the Grant Park Chorus of Chicago, Chorusmaster of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus and of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. He has previously received a Scotsman of the Year award for creative talent and also the Charles Groves Prize for his contribution to cultural life in Scotland the rest of the UK.

At Thursday’s afternoon ceremony, Zainab Bangura will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws. Ms Bangura is Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the level of Under-Secretary-General. She also serves as Chair of the interagency network UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, and is the recipient of numerous humanitarian and human rights awards.

Also on Thursday, Marc Ellington, Baron of Towie Barclay and Laird of Gardenstown and Crovie will be presented with an honorary Doctorate of Honoris Causa. Mr Ellington is a former Board member of the Historic Buildings Council, Grampian Enterprise, the British Heritage Committee and the Heritage Lottery Fund for Scotland. He is currently Executive Director of the Scottish Traditional Skills Training Centre, which offers a range of courses tailored to professionals working in construction, heritage, conservation, and the voluntary sector.

On Friday, the Very Rev Dr Graham Forbes CBE will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws. A former student of the University, Dr Forbes’ ecclesiastical duties began in 1976 as Curate of Old St Paul’s, Edinburgh. He is currently Chair of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and serves as Chair of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.

Friday will also see Dr Ronald Scott Brown presented with the first Benefactor to the University award. Dr Scott Brown is a distinguished and much respected graduate and honorary graduate of the University. A long term supporter of the University, he has promoted its philanthropic aims both as a generous benefactor and also as a Trustee of the University of Aberdeen Development Trust. He was one of the founders of Aberdeen Asset Management PLC and served as its Chairman for several years.

Dr Scott Brown has also served as a member of the General Council Business Committee and was a lay member of the University Court.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University, said: “The University of Aberdeen is delighted to recognise the achievements of such talented and distinguished individual and I would like to welcome them to the University family.

“These inspirational individuals have attained huge success in their fields and set an excellent example to our graduands.

“It is also an honour to present our first Benefactor to the University award to Dr Scott Brown, he has always been a fantastic supporter of this University and I am pleased that this will be formally recognised at the Graduation ceremony on Friday.”