Friday, January 13, 2006

Honorary Degree? Haven't you got yours?

Mickey Harte, Chris Patten, Sir Digby Jones and Eamonn Holmes will be awarded degrees in the summer graduation ceremony this year. Mickey Harte led Tyrone to two All-Ireland Championships in three years and will receive a degree for services to Gaelic Football. Chris Patten, the architect of the PSNI, Sir Digby Jones, CBI Director General and broadcaster Eamonn Holmes will all be awarded honorary doctorates.

Awarding such a title to Mr Patten, for distinction in public service will be interpreted by some as a political statement. Mr Pattens policing reforms were controversial and conferring an honorary doctorate indicates some level of approval. Honorary titles are normally not conferred on politicians, but the university has done so in the past, recognising other prominent figures in the peace process such as John Hume and David Trimble.

The University has steadily increased the amount of honorary qualifications it awards, arguably devaluing their significance. Others who will be honoured include, environmentalist Johnathon Porritt, Irish soprano Angela Feeney and belfast born Nicky Kinnaird, founder of Space NK beauty products.

Fundraising and investment remains high on the Universities list of priorities. This is demonstrated by honouring US businessman David Figgins, who sits on the International Advisory Board of Invest Northern Ireland.


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