York St John University announces 2018 honorary graduates

Published: 11/09/2018

Each year, York St John University confers honorary awards upon individuals in recognition of outstanding achievement in their field, their contribution to the region or society, or service to the University.

Picture of Reeta Chakrabarti

Reeta Chakrabarti

These honorary awards recognise enduring and successful careers and influence on the wider community. With social impact at the heart of York St John’s ethos, this year, the University marked the centenary of women’s right to vote, launched York Business School, opened a London campus to enhance opportunities for its students and formed a partnership with the NHS to deliver mental health support in the city of York.

In recognition of the remarkable social impact made by others, York St John University is delighted to be celebrating the success of the following inspirational figures at graduation ceremonies taking place on 20, 21 and 22 November alongside 2,000 students graduating in the beautiful setting of York Minster.

Reeta Chakrabarti, BBC News Presenter – Dr of Letters (honoris causa)
Harry Gration, BBC Look North Presenter – Dr of Letters (honoris causa)
Matt Haig, Writer – Dr of Letters (honoris causa)
Rt Hon Lady Hale DBE, PC, LLD, FBA, Baroness of the Supreme Court – Dr of Laws (honoris causa)
Allan Leighton, Chairman of the Cooperative Group – Dr of Letters (honoris causa)
Stuart Murphy, CEO English National Opera – Dr of Letters (honoris causa)
Helen Sharman CMG, OBE, FRSC, FIScT, Scientist (first British astronaut to visit Mir Space Station) - Dr of Health Sciences (honoris causa)
Sue Smith, Footballer – Dr of Health Sciences (honoris causa)
Dianne Willcocks CBE, DL, Former Vice Chancellor of York St John University – Dr of Education (honoris causa)

Reeta Chakrabarti
First a producer, then a reporter and now a presenter, Reeta Chakrabarti is enjoying a long and successful career with the BBC. She currently presents BBC1’s News at One, Six and Ten and bulletins on the BBC News Channel. As community affairs correspondent she covered the Stephen Lawrence inquest and subsequent public enquiry, a case spanning more than a decade. She also served as a correspondent for education and for social affairs, and spent many years reporting from Westminster as a political correspondent.

Harry Gration
Harry Gration presents BBC Look North for the Yorkshire region, initially joining the programme in 1982. He has been a broadcaster for over four decades. He trained as a teacher at St John’s College, a precursor of York St John University, and was Head of History at Rodillian School in Wakefield before joining BBC Radio Leeds. He has twice been named Regional Presenter of the Year at the Royal Television Society Awards, and in 2013 he received an MBE for services to broadcasting.

Matt Haig
Matt Haig is an award-winning novelist, journalist and screenwriter. He has written extensively for both adults and children and all of his adult novels have been optioned for film. He has close ties to Yorkshire; he was born in Sheffield, studied at the Universities of Hull and Leeds, and spent some years living in York – his novel The Radleys is set in Bishopthorpe. His memoir of mental illness, Reasons to Stay Alive, and his latest non-fiction book, Notes on a Nervous Planet, have both been at the top of the Sunday Times bestsellers’ list. The New York Times has called him 'a novelist of great talent' whose writing is 'funny, riveting and heartbreaking’.

Rt Hon The Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, PC, LLD, FBA
Lady Hale is the President of the UK’s Supreme Court and is the first woman to hold this position, the pinnacle of an extraordinary, successful legal career. She is a tireless advocate for women as well as other under-represented groups in the judiciary and among lawyers. She grew up in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and studied law at Cambridge. She spent 18 years as an academic, teaching law at Manchester, becoming a professor and qualifying as a barrister, before her ascent up the judicial ladder.

Allan Leighton
Allan Leighton is one of the UK’s most experienced and effective business executives. He is the first independent Non-Executive Chair of the Co-operative Group, a role he assumed in early 2015. Previously, he served as Chief Executive of Asda, Non-Executive Chairman of Royal Mail and President of Loblaw, the largest food retailer in Canada. He has held Board appointments with several high-profile companies, including lastminute.com, Dyson and BskyB Group. He is a patron of Breast Cancer Care.

Stuart Murphy
Stuart Murphy became the Chief Executive Officer of English National Opera in April 2018. His earlier career was spent in television, including 10 years at the BBC and six at Sky. He was the country’s youngest TV channel controller when he ran UK Play, a music and comedy channel co-owned by BBC Worldwide. He devised, launched and ran BBC Three before becoming Director, Entertainment Channels at Sky, overseeing Sky 1, Sky Living, Sky Arts and the launch of Sky Atlantic.

Dr Helen Sharman CMG, OBE, FRSC, FIScT
Dr Helen Sharman was the first Briton in space as a member of the expedition to the Russian space station, Mir, in 1991. She is the Operations Manager for the Department of Chemistry at Imperial College London, the President of the Institute of Science and Technology, a Fellow of the Science Museum and a patron of the Spacelink Learning Foundation. She was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for her science and technology outreach work earlier this year.

Sue Smith
One of the most experienced players in women’s football, Sue Smith scored 16 goals in 93 appearances during a glittering England career that spanned 14 years, while also playing at the highest domestic level with Leeds United and Doncaster Rovers Belles. She is now a respected commentator and pundit for the BBC and Sky Sports. She played in the 1999 FIFA World XI, was a European Cup finalist, and won the FA International Player of the Year award in 1999 and 2001.

Professor Dianne Willcocks CBE, DL
Professor Dianne Willcocks was the first Vice Chancellor of York St John University. She led the institution through the relocation to a single campus in York, and the achievement of Taught Degree Awarding Powers and of university status. Now a successful leadership consultant, she is also an advocate and practitioner for socially inclusive higher education and for successful ageing. She received a CBE in 2008 for services to higher education and to the community in Yorkshire, and became a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire in 2010.

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