Better by degrees at St Andrews . . .

St Andrews;'University  Degree Students'photo; WALTER NEILSON
St Andrews;'University Degree Students'photo; WALTER NEILSON

Leading figures from the worlds of science, academia, literature and law were awarded honorary degrees from St Andrews University at a series of graduation ceremonies this week.

Famous names, including the “father of modern linguistics,” Noam Chomsky, Irish poet Paul Muldoon, Man Booker prizewinner Dame Antonia Byatt, and Scottish writer A.L. Kennedy were honoured during the traditional summer graduations held in the Younger Hall, the final two of which will take place today (Friday).


Awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in recognition of his major contribution to science and society, American-born Professor Chomsky is a major figure of analytic philosophy and his work has influenced fields such as computer science, mathematics, and psychology.

In his laureation address, Professor Stephen Reicher, of the School of Psychology, said: ”In honouring you, Professor Chomsky, we honour the principle of freedom that you articulate so powerfully. We honour the spirit of speaking truth to power without which no university has any right to call itself as such. And we honour all those you have inspired to use their creativity and take their fate into their own hands.”

Also awarded honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters were novelist and poet Dame Antonia Byatt, Professor Stanley Hoffman, the Paul and Catherine Buttenweiser University Professor at Harvard University, Paul Muldoon, for his major contribution to poetry, and, yesterday, Dundee-born A.L.(Alison) Kennedy, writer and novelist, an associate professor in creative writing with University of Warwick - she previously taught at St Andrews - and a stand-up comedian.

Honoured for his contribution to theoretical and computational chemistry was Italian Professor Michele Parrinello (DSc), environmental scientist Jesse Ausubel (LLD), Professor Elaine Showalter, professor of English at Princeton University (DLitt), and Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Edwin Cameron (LLD).

Due to receive honorary doctorates today are Professor John Meurig Thomas, honorary professor of solid state chemistry at Cambridge (DSc), Dame Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson Plc and one of the most powerful women in the world (LLD), and science broadcaster, author and television producer Simon Singh (DSc).

n Graduation lists on pages 10, 12 and 14