Students Staff

21 April 2008

University honours

Stalwarts of the local Colchester community and a world-renowned actress are among this year's crop of University of Essex honorary graduands.

Local archaeologist Philip Crummy, Chief Executive of Colchester's Mercury Theatre Dee Evans and actress Juliet Stevenson are among those who will pick up honorary degrees from the University at this summer's graduation ceremonies. They will rub shoulders with more than 2,000 Essex students who will be picking up undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the nine ceremonies in July.

Honorary degrees will be awarded to:

Professor Derrick Swartz, a graduate of the University, is a leading figure in South African higher education and former anti-apartheid activist. Originally from Port Elizabeth, Professor Swartz was a teacher, and later a community researcher and political activist before coming to the UK to study for a Masters and PhD in sociology at Essex. On returning to South Africa he founded the Institute of Government at the University of Fort Hare and in 1998 he was appointed Professor and Chair of Inter-Governmental Relations at Fort Hare. In 1999 he became Fort Hare's Vice-Chancellor, a position he held until January 2008, and is widely credited with bringing about the University's academic renewal and financial turnaround. He is currently serving as Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in SA.

Juliet Stevenson CBE is one of the UK's most prominent theatre, film and television actresses. Born in Essex, she was educated at RADA and later spent almost a decade with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has worked regularly at the Royal National Theatre, most recently in The Seagull (2006), the Royal Court Theatre and in the west end. She is perhaps best known for her film work and specifically her roles in Drowning by Numbers (1988), Truly, Madly Deeply (1991), Emma (1996) and Bend it Like Beckham (2002). She has also undertaken work for BBC Radio and has worked on television, including the 2003 drama Hear the Silence in which she played the mother of an autistic boy. Most recently she appeared alongside Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent in the film adaptation of And When Did You Last See Your Father? She was awarded the CBE in 1999.

Jack Petchey OBE, born in the east end of London, is a prominent businessman and property developer who, in the last decade, has devoted much of his time and energy to supporting young people in east London and Essex. His Petchey Group started out in the motor trade, before diversifying into property development and timeshare management. His greatest achievement however is perhaps the Jack Petchey Foundation which he established in 1999 with his own money. It gives grants to programmes and projects that benefit those aged between 11 and 25 and has committed £150 million to schools and youth projects over the next decade. In 2004 he was awarded the OBE for services to young people.

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