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York honours seven for contribution to society

Posted on 10 January 2017

The University of York will next week award honorary degrees to an award-winning screenwriter, a leading educationalist, a renowned economist, an authority on civil justice, a professor of molecular and cell biology, a distinguished archaeologist, and the Chairman of British Rowing.

Every year the University of York confers the honorary degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa on distinguished people. The recipients come from many walks of life and all have made a significant contribution to society.

Honorary graduands are selected from nominations by members of the University and very often have links with departments or alumni.

They are:

  • BAFTA-winning screenwriter, executive producer and director Sally Wainwright;
  • Dr Alison Birkinshaw, Chief Executive and Principal of 

    York College;
  • Economist Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta;
  • Professor Dame Hazel Genn, a leading authority on civil justice;
  • Professor Dame Anne Glover, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Aberdeen;
  • Archaeologist and Time Team regular Dr Francis Pryor;
  • Annamarie Phelps, Chairman of British Rowing and Vice-Chair of the British Paralympic Association.

Sally Wainwright


Credit: BAFTA/Richard Kendal

Sally Wainwright is a BAFTA-winning screenwriter, executive producer and director, best known for creating the BBC’s Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax and ITV’s Scott and Bailey.

Born in Huddersfield in 1963, Sally Wainwright grew up in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, before studying English at the University of York. After graduation she took a play she wrote as a student to the Edinburgh Festival, where she acquired an agent.

After writing for the BBC Radio 4 series The Archers, Sally Wainwright became a scriptwriter for Coronation Street from 1994 to 1999, before creating the TV series At Home with the Braithwaites in 2000. Awarded the Royal Television Society’s Writer of the Year in 2009 for the drama Unforgiven, in 2011 she wrote Scott and Bailey, followed by Last Tango in Halifax, which won the BAFTA for best series and best writer in 2012.

The BBC crime drama Happy Valley, starring Sarah Lancashire and written, created and directed by Sally Wainwright, aired in 2014, winning BAFTAs for best writer and best drama.

Sally Wainwright lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two sons.

Dr Alison Birkinshaw OBE

Dr Alison Birkinshaw is Chief Executive and Principal of York College. She is also a former Chair of the Higher York Board and current Chair of Learning City York.

Dr Birkinshaw grew up in Bakewell and studied Music and English at the University of Hull before pursuing a PhD in 20th-century music. Achieving a PGCE from Durham University, she joined Nelson and Colne College in 1984 as a Lecturer in Music and then became Head of Creative Arts before moving to Runshaw College, Leyland, as Assistant and then Deputy Principal. After Dr Birkinshaw returned to Nelson and Colne College as Principal in 2004, the College was judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in 2005 and awarded Beacon College status in 2006.

On becoming Principal of York College in 2008, Dr Birkinshaw led the College to its 2013 ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grade. Having chaired the national Further Education Reputation Steering Group from 2007, she regularly contributes to FE strategy at a national level.

Awarded an OBE for services to education in 2012, Dr Birkinshaw is a past member of the Association of Colleges’ Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Committee and the York Economic Partnership and currently serves on other key local and regional strategic groups.

Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta

Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta is an economist working in the field of malnutrition, population and environmental resources.

He was born in India, and studied maths at the University of Cambridge before obtaining a PhD there in 1968. Sir Partha is currently the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge; a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge; and Visiting Professor at New College of the Humanities, London.

He taught at the London School of Economics (1971–85) before becoming Professor of Economics at Cambridge, where he served as Chairman of the Faculty of Economics from 1997 to 2001 and co-founded the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

Sir Partha, who was knighted in 2002, has been honoured around the world and is a Fellow of the British Academy; a Fellow of the Royal Society; a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences; and a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Science.

Professor Dame Hazel Genn DBE, QC

Professor Dame Hazel Genn is a leading authority on civil justice whose work has had a major influence on policymakers around the world. She is currently Dean of the Faculty of Laws and Director of the Centre for Access to Justice at University College London.

Dame Hazel’s work has focused on the experiences of ordinary people caught up in legal problems and the responsiveness of the justice system to the needs of citizens. She has conducted empirical studies on public access to the justice system and has published widely in her specialist fields.

Dame Hazel has been appointed to many public service roles in the justice system. In 2006 she became Inaugural Commissioner to the England and Wales Judicial Appointments Commission, which appoints members of the judiciary at all levels, including to the Court of Appeal and the UK Supreme Court.

She has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 2000 and in 2008 she delivered the Hamlyn Lectures on the subject of civil justice. She was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2006 she was appointed DBE for services to civil justice and she was also appointed Queen’s Counsel honoris causa. In 2008 she was elected Honorary Master of the Bench of Gray’s Inn.

Professor Dame Anne Glover FRS, FRSE

Professor Dame Anne Glover is Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Aberdeen where she focuses on improving understanding of how diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, affect the body at a molecular level.

Professor Glover was the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland from 2006 to 2011, before being appointed the first Chief Scientific Adviser to the European Commission, where she provided expert advice on science, technology and innovation to policymakers and the Commission President.

During her time at the Commission, Professor Glover raised the profile of science advisers among EU government bodies, which was particularly demonstrated in her openness in the debate concerning genetically modified crops.

Professor Glover was honoured with a damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for 2015. She is currently the Vice-Principal for External Affairs and Dean for Europe at the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Francis Pryor MBE

Dr Francis Pryor is a distinguished archaeologist, known to millions from his television appearances and a series of successful books.

After reading archaeology and anthropology at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, he began a series of major excavations (1971–78) at Fengate, on the outskirts of Peterborough, which revealed an extensive Bronze Age field system, as well as Neolithic and Iron Age settlements.

In 1982 he discovered the timbers of a Late Bronze Age timber causeway and religious complex at Flag Fen. Today, it has become one of the best known Bronze Age sites in Europe. He was awarded an MBE for services to tourism in 1999.

Dr Pryor has written numerous books. His most recent work is Home: A Time Traveller’s Tales from Britain’s Prehistory which charts the changing role of households and communities in shaping the destiny of people and their landscapes. A former president of the Council for British Archaeology, he was also a regular presence on the Channel 4 television series Time Team.

Annamarie Phelps CBE

Annamarie Phelps is a rower and champion of Paralympic sport who represented Great Britain at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and in the World Rowing Championships from 1991 to 1995, winning the World Championship gold medal in 1993.

As a prominent figure in the world of rowing, she has played an important role in the direction of Paralympic sport, as Chairman of British Rowing and Vice-Chair of the British Paralympic Association.

Annamarie Phelps is dedicated to promoting inclusivity and diversity in sport and providing better access to those coming to rowing for the first time. She also works with the international body, Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron, and the Commonwealth Games Federation to strengthen the sport globally.

She was the first female board member of the Boat Race Company Ltd, working with university sponsors and men’s clubs to bring the Women’s University Boat Race to the Tideway on the River Thames in 2015. Annamarie Phelps was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours lists for 2016 in recognition of her services to rowing.

Contact details

Samantha Martin
Deputy Head of Media Relations

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029

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