Publication date: 10/06/2009
One of the world's most revered public figures, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, received a special honour from Bangor University today (10 June).
To mark its 125th anniversary this year, the University awarded its first Honorary Degrees.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and former Chair of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, joined three other individuals to receive Honorary Doctorates at a special ceremony in the University.
On receiving his Honorary Degree he said:
"I've always had a soft spot for Wales ....... We owe a great deal to yourselves, when we won the spectacular victory over apartheid, the victory would have been totally impossible without support of the many international communities and you in Wales were among our most committed supporters...."
Also receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony were:
Sir David Attenborough, OM, CH, broadcaster and naturalist. Sir David's father studied at Coleg Normal in Bangor, and the family spent many family holidays in the area.
Of his Honour, he said: "I'm delighted and truly honoured to receive the Honorary Degree. I spent many happy holidays on the island (of Anglesey) studying birds and the marvellous fossils on the beach at Penmon.
I'm thrilled too, because this University has a superb reputation in the study of environmental and marine science. The world needs people skilled in the expertise and research needed to play a crucial part in solving the world's problems. There is no kind of honour I value more highly than that bestowed by a university.
I think universities are the most important institutions in our society. They are the one place where truth has no reference to commerce or politics, and such kinds of institutions are rare and should be cherished. If one of them gives you an honour it should be an honour to be treasured."
The Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister for Wales since 2000.
"The National Assembly enjoys a close relationship with Wales' universities. It's an opportunity to recall the sacrifices made by the quarrymen and others to establish this university and other national institutions in Wales that were the fore runners to the National Assembly. I accepted the degree as it's an enormous honour to receive the first degree awarded by Bangor University and I feel honoured to be considered among the people receiving awards today," said The Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan, First Minister.
Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas, FRS, Honorary Professor of Solid State Chemistry, University of Cambridge, and former Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, who began his academic career at Bangor in the late 1950s
"I'm immensely pleased to receive this honour. I started my academic career here and this is a joy that will remain with me forever. Here I had the first opportunity to teach and research at the School of Chemistry, at the age of 25. I had total intellectual freedom and a lot of good students and good colleagues. It was a very small college, 800 students and 90 members of staff," said Sir John.
"This is an historic day in the history of this University. After flourishing for a hundred and twenty five years we have, today, for the first time ever, awarded our own, Bangor degrees. This marvellous ceremony confirms and eloquently symbolises the University's maturity and standing in the academic world. One measure of a university is its alumni. Our four honorary graduates, the first people ever to receive a Bangor degrees, are all outstanding individuals who have each made a huge contribution to our modern world," said Bangor University Vice-Chancellor Professor Merfyn Jones.
View coverage and interviews on BangorTV here