Students Staff

03 May 2011

Honorary Graduands announced

Joan Bakewell © Matthew Bakewell

The University of Essex will be presenting honorary degrees to six distinguished individuals at graduation ceremonies in July. They will be joining more than 2,000 students as they celebrate their achievements:

Prominent Iranian feminist Professor the Baroness Afshar, OBE, AcSS teaches Politics and Women’s Studies at the University of York and serves as a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. She studied at York before completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge. She launched her writing career as a correspondent for Kayhan International, a daily English language newspaper in Tehran before returning to the UK in the mid – 1970s where she worked for the University of Bradford and then York. She has served on several bodies including the British Council and is currently Honorary President of the United Nations Association International Service and the Muslim Women’s Network (UK). She received an OBE in 2005 for her services to equal opportunities and was made a life peer in 2007. She has written and edited over 15 books on Iran, Iranian politics, women and the developing world.

Sir John Ashworth was a founding member of the Department of Biology (now Biological Sciences) at the University of Essex. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford and the University of Leicester where he was also a lecturer and reader before coming to Essex in the 1970s. He was seconded to the Cabinet Office in 1976 where he was later an under-secretary and chief scientist. In 1981 he returned to higher education as Vice-Chancellor at the University of Salford and between 1990 and 1996 he was Director of the London School of Economics. He has held a number of other notable posts including Chairman of the British Library Board (1996-2001); Deputy Chairman of The Institute of Cancer Research (2003-07); Chairman of the Barts and the London NHS Trust; a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation; and a non-executive Director of Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust. He is currently President of the Council for the Assistance of Refugee Academics. He was knighted in 2008.

Writer and broadcaster Dame Joan Bakewell studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, before launching a television career in the 1960s. She shot to fame on BBC’s Late Night Line-Up, having already built up her profile on programmes such as ITV's Sunday Break. For her television work, she is perhaps best known for presenting Heart of the Matter (1988-2000) My Generation (2000) and Taboo (2001). She was also BBC Television's arts correspondent from 1981 - 1987. 
She is a columnist for The Independent and has previously written for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Times. She published her autobiography, The Centre of the Bed, in 2003. She published her first novel All the Nice Girls in 2009
She was appointed a CBE in 1999 and was Chairman of the British Film Institute from 1999 to 2003. In 2008 she was made a Dame and was later appointed Britain’s ‘voice for the elderly’ by the Labour government. In November 2010 she was awarded a Life Peerage joining the Labour benches.

Ignacio Durán Loera, an acclaimed filmmaker, was the Mexican Embassy’s Cultural Attaché responsible for promoting Mexican arts and culture in the UK. Minister Durán read law at the National Autonomous University in Mexico and worked for several years as a lawyer specialising in labour law. In the early 1970s he studied at the London Film School and worked for the BBC and ITV. He returned to Mexico in 1975 where he worked in the film industry as a director and producer of feature films, documentaries and television programmes. A year later he became Deputy Director of the National Institute of Fine Arts and was later appointed Head of the Education and Cultural Production Unit at the Ministry for Education. He has served as Director General of the Mexican Film Institute and as Vice President for Production at TV Azteca, one of the largest television networks in Mexico. Before coming to the UK he served as General Director of the Mexican Culture Institute in Washington D.C.

Chris Mullin is an author, journalist and former politician who is currently a member of the 2011 Man Booker Prize judging panel. Mr Mullin grew up in Essex and was educated at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and the University of Hull. In the 1970s he worked as a journalist - for the BBC World Service and as a freelance – and travelled extensively in Indo-China and China. He was Member of Parliament for Sunderland South between 1987and 2010 during which time during which time he held ministerial positions in several government departments. He was Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee (1997-99 and 2001-03) and was a member of the Standards and Privileges Committee (2006-10). He was also a board member of the Prison Reform Trust ((2996-10). His books include two volumes of diaries (Decline and Fall and A View from the Foothills) and three novels, including A Very British Coup.

Keir Starmer QC is currently Director of Public Prosecutions and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers. He was educated at Leeds University and St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and has been a Fellow of the University’s Human Rights Centre since 1998. He was Human Rights Advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board (2003-08) and was a member of the Foreign Secretary’s Advisory Panel on the Death Penalty (2002-08). His appeals to the Privy Council on behalf of death row prisoners from Caribbean states were instrumental in the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in those states, and as Director of Public Prosecutions he issued guidelines regarding the prosecution of those involved in assisted suicide. In 2001 he received the Human Rights Lawyer of the Year award, and in 2007 he was voted QC of the year in the field of public law and human rights by Chambers Directory of Legal Practitioners. 

Notes to editors
The University’s Graduation ceremonies will take place at the Colchester Campus on 20, 21 and 22 July 2011.

For more information and photographs please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone 01206 872807, e-mail

...more news releases