Skip to content

University awards eight honorary degrees

Posted on 16 January 2014

A philanthropist, a post-conflict specialist, the Chair of the Science and Technology in Society forum, a composer, biographer, academic publisher, physicist and the Chair of Scope are to receive honorary degrees from the University of York this week.

Sigrid Rausing, Rae McGrath, Koji Omi, Philip Moore, Claire Tomalin, Dr Richard Barber, Professor Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith and Dr Alice Maynard will be awarded honorary doctorates at the University’s graduation ceremonies on 24 and 25 January. 

The University confers honorary degrees on individuals who have made a significant contribution to society. Recipients often have existing links with the University and are chosen from nominations made by its members.

Sigrid Rausing


Sigrid Rausing
Sigrid Rausing is a Swedish philanthropist, anthropologist and publisher. She is founder of the Sigrid Rausing Trust, one of the UK’s largest philanthropic foundations, and publisher of Granta magazine and Granta Books. She studied History at the University of York, graduating in 1986, and then completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at University College London. She founded the Sigrid Rausing

Trust in 1995 and its generous support helped to establish the Centre for Applied Human Rights at York. A joint winner of the International Service Human Rights Award, Sigrid Rausing is a member of the jury of the Per Anger Prize for human rights defenders and the Order of the Teaspoon, a Swedish organisation against political and religious extremism. She serves on the advisory board of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and is an Emeritus member of the international board of Human Rights Watch. In 2012, the University of York awarded her a Morrell Fellowship.

Rae McGrath 


Rae McGrath
Rae McGrath is a specialist in conflict, post-conflict and natural emergency response. He is Country Director for North Syria and Turkey for Mercy. He has responded to emergencies in countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Sudan and Somalia. He is also a visiting lecturer and Associate with the University of York’s Post-War Reconstruction and Development Unit.

After 17 years in the British Army, he worked with NGOs in Darfur, Sudan during the famine of the mid-1980s. He established community-based landmine clearance programmes in Afghanistan in 1988, and founded the international mine clearance NGO the Mines Advisory Group.

He was a founder member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. He played a key role in securing the 2008 international ban on cluster munitions. He has written on landmine eradication, human rights in conflict, civil society campaigning and responding to the  humanitarian impact of conflict.

Koji Omi 


Koji Omi
Koji Omi is one of the most influential figures in science and technology in Japan today. A politician who has held several Cabinet posts, including Minister of State for Science and Technology Policies, and Minister of Finance, he played a central role in enacting the Fundamental Law on Science and Technology in 1995. He advocated the founding of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), an international and interdisciplinary graduate university. In 2004, he founded the Science and Technology in Society forum with the aim of building a worldwide network among scientists, policymakers and business leaders. The forum has been held annually in Kyoto since then.

A graduate of Hitotsubashi University (Commerce), he joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in 1956. He served at the Japanese Consulate General in New York and later in the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency before resigning from MITI in 1982 to seek election to the House of Representatives. First elected in 1983, he served 26 years until 2009.

Philip Moore


Philip Moore
Philip Moore, who was Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster from 1983 to 2008, has an international reputation as a composer of choral and organ works. He was born in 1943 and educated at the Royal College of Music.

He also has a Bachelor in Music degree from Durham University. In 1965 he was appointed to the music staff at Eton College, and three years later became Assistant Organist at Canterbury Cathedral. In 1974 he became Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral, moving to York Minster in 1983.

Philip Moore holds the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists and is a graduate of the Royal School of Music. To mark 50 years of service to Church music, and to celebrate his retirement, the Archbishop of York bestowed the Order of St William on him and he was awarded Honorary Fellowships by the Royal School of Church Music, the Guild of Church Musicians and the Academy of St Cecilia.

Claire Tomalin


Claire Tomalin (credit: Angus Muir)
Claire Tomalin, born in London in 1933, studied at Cambridge, reading English Literature and always maintaining a strong interest in history. She worked in publishing and journalism as literary editor of the New Statesman, then the Sunday Times, while bringing up her children.

In 1974 she published her first book The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft, and since then has written acclaimed biographies of Katherine Mansfield, Jane Austen, Samuel Pepys, Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens (among others). Her Invisible Woman (1990), a study of the actress Nelly Ternan and her relationship with Charles Dickens, has just been filmed with Ralph Fiennes playing Dickens. She has organised exhibitions, served as a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and is a Vice-President of the Royal Literary Fund and English PEN. She is married to the writer Michael Frayn.

Dr Richard Barber FRSL, FSA, FRHistS


Dr Richard Barber
Dr Richard Barber founded Boydell and Brewer in 1969 and was Managing Director for 40 years. The company specialises in monographs and editions of texts, and is an active publisher of medieval history and literature, music, modern history, European literature and African Studies. Richard Barber also helped to start York Medieval Press in 1990.

Through its collaboration with the Royal Historical Society and other learned societies, Boydell and Brewer provides publishing opportunities for young scholars, including those from the University of York.

Dr Barber is also a prolific author. His first book was on the Arthurian legends, and in 2006 his book on the Holy Grail was widely praised. He has written extensively on medieval history, including biographies of Henry II and Edward, Prince of Wales. The Knight and Chivalry won the prestigious Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. His most recent book is Edward III and the Triumph of England.

Professor Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith FRS


Professor Sir Christopher Lewellyn Smith
Professor Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith is an influential scientist in the field of fusion energy and played an important role in establishing a successful fusion energy research and training programme at York.

Born in North Yorkshire, he is Director of Energy Research at Oxford University and President of the Council of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental

Science and Applications in the Middle East). He was the Director of the UK fusion energy programme at Culham from 2003 to 2008, Director General of CERN from 1994 to 1998, when the Large Hadron Collider was approved and construction started, and Provost and President of University College London from 1999 to 2002.

As Director of UKAEA Culham, he provided substantial support that helped to launch the fusion research activity at York, including collaborating with the University to develop world-leading laser diagnostic systems for the MAST tokamak. His theoretical contributions to the ‘standard model’ of particle physics were recognised by his election to the Royal Society in 1984. He was knighted in 2001.

Dr Alice Maynard 


Dr Alice Maynard
Dr Alice Maynard is Chair of Scope, a national charity driving change in society for disabled people and their families. She is also founder and Director of Future Inclusion Ltd, an organisation working to encourage good governance, inclusive practice and ethical business. She was previously Head of Disability Strategy at Network Rail, and in 2001 was seconded to Transport for London where she developed its first social inclusion plan.

She graduated from the University of York in 1980 before gaining an MBA in 1991 and a DBA in 2008. She was admitted as a Chartered Director in 2011. As a wheelchair user, Dr Maynard chose the University of York for her undergraduate studies because, back in the 1970s, it was one of the few universities accessible to disabled students. She continues to support the University as a regular contributor to the Giving to York Fund and in 2012 she became a Giving Ambassador for York.

Notes to editors:

  • Sigrid Rausing will be presented for her honorary degree by Professor Paul Gready from the Centre for Applied Human Rights in Ceremony One on Friday, 24 January at 9.30am.
  • Rae McGrath will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Sultan Barakat from the Department of Politics in Ceremony One on Friday, 24 January at 9.30am.
  • Koji Omi will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Ian Graham from the Department of Biology in Ceremony Two on Friday, 24 January at noon.
  • Philip Moore will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Jo Wainwright from the Department of Music in Ceremony Two on Friday, 24 January at noon.
  • Claire Tomalin will be presented for her honorary degree by Professor John Bowen from the Department of English and Related Literature in Ceremony Three on Friday, 24 January at 3.30pm.
  • Dr Richard Barber will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Mark Ormrod, Academic Co-ordinator for Arts and Humanities, in Ceremony Three on Friday, 24 January at 3.30pm.
  • Professor Sir Christopher Llewellyn Smith will be presented for his honorary degree by Professor Howard Wilson from the Department of Physics in Ceremony Four on Saturday, 25 January at 9.30am.
  • Dr Alice Maynard will be presented for her honorary degree by Professor Gillian Parker from the Department of Social Policy and Social Work in Ceremony Five on Saturday, 25 January at noon.

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

Keep up to date

 Subscribe to news feeds

 Follow us on Twitter