Archbishop Desmond Tutu to be honoured by University of Leicester

Posted by pt91 at Apr 27, 2011 11:10 AM |
Nobel Peace Prize winner to be presented with honorary degree

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 27 April 2011

One of the world’s best-known and best-loved campaigners for peace and justice is to be honoured by the University of Leicester, UK, in July.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his struggle against South African apartheid, and the author of many works around reconciliation and unity, will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters on Friday 15th July 2011 at 3pm at the University of Leicester degree congregation in De Montfort Hall, Leicester.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Sir Robert Burgess said:   “There can be no greater role model for our graduands from across the world than Archbishop Desmond Tutu.   His wisdom, courage and integrity are an inspiration to us all and we are delighted to confer the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters on such a great global figure.”

Archbishop Tutu spoke out against apartheid during the years of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and was subsequently asked by President Mandela to chair South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and investigate the crimes of all parties committed during apartheid.

After a full and active public life, Archbishop Tutu has only recently retired, in October 2010, at the age of 79.  

He was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, a small gold-mining town in the Transvaal, and became a teacher until the 1953 Bantu Education Act introduced the separation of races at all levels of education.

Desmond Tutu then entered the church, rising through its ranks. In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black person to hold that position.

From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches.

He continued to campaign against apartheid, risking jail, but in 1989 the recently elected President R W De Klerk brought in liberalising reforms and lifted the ban on the African National Congress, also releasing Nelson Mandela from prison.

As a result of his work at the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Tutu has been called on to help other governments and organisations, including Northern Ireland.

As chairman of The Elders, a group of former world leaders dedicated to the alleviation of world problems, he has visited Cyprus and Kenya.   He has continued to speak out against injustice worldwide.

More recently he has encouraged the governments of more prosperous countries to be wary of cutting aid to less well-off societies during the current economic downturn.

A University spokesperson added: “Desmond Tutu is an inspirational person who adds much to our understanding of diversity and is a champion of equality.  He is an embodiment of the University’s position as being ‘elite without being elitist’.”

Notes to Editors: Further details are available from the University of Leicester Press Office, telephone +44 (0) 116 252 2415,email

Crying in the Wilderness, 1982; Hope and Suffering, 1983; The Words of Desmond Tutu, 1989; The Rainbow People of God, 1994; No Future Without Forgiveness, 1999; God Has a Dream: a vision of hope for our time, 2004; articles and reviews

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