Honorary Graduates 2011 no.9 - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu holds the unique academic distinction of having a category of degree named after him. British graduates who are awarded a lower second-class degree are said to receive 'a Desmond' – that is, a 2:2.
Born in Transvaal in 1931, Tutu was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1960 and came to Britain two years later to study at King’s College, London for a Bachelors and Masters in Theology. He returned to South Africa in 1967, teaching at the University of Fort Hare and the National University of Lesotho, during which he started to stand out as a leading critic of the apartheid regime. From 1972 to 1975 he was back in the UK, working for the World Council of Churches in Kent.
Returning once more to his homeland he became Bishop of Lesotho in 1976 and then Secretary-General of the South African Council of Churches, from which position he was able to use his speeches and writing to further the anti-Apartheid cause at an international level.
After the collapse of apartheid in 1994 and the election of Nelson Mandela as President, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which examined accounts of human rights violations. He retired as Archbishop of Cape Town in 1996 and since then has contributed to many humanitarian causes across the globe.
In 1984 he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Today’s award from the University of Leicester will add to a collection of more than 50 Honorary Degrees that he has received from universities around the world.