The University of St Andrews will award an honorary degree to its former Rector Kevin Dunion later this month. He will be joined at the St Andrew’s Day graduation on Wednesday (30 November 2010) by authors Karen Armstrong and Ali Smith.
Kevin Dunion OBE is the first and current Scottish Information Commissioner, and served for three years as the University of St Andrews’ Lord Rector – hailed as the students’ champion. The 50th Rector in St Andrews’ history, he was succeeded last month by the author and former TV executive Alistair Moffat.
Following periods in the civil service and university administration, Dunion joined Oxfam as Campaigns Manager and then took up post as Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland. From 1996 to 2000 he also served as Chairman of Friends of the Earth International, heading delegations to the United Nations and European Commission.
Karen Armstrong was born at Wildmoor, Worcestershire and became a nun in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus before studying English at Oxford University. She left her order while still a student, and wrote a memoir of her convent experiences once employed teaching English at a girls’ school in Dulwich.
Since then Armstrong has authored numerous books on religious affairs including A History of God, The Battle for God, Holy War, Islam: A Short History, The Great Transformation, The Bible: the Biography, The Case for God, and, most recently, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. Her work has been translated into 45 languages, has addressed members of the US Congress on three occasions, lectured to policy makers at the US State and Defence Departments, participated in the World Economic Forum, and is an ambassador for the UN Alliance of Civilizations.
Ali Smith is a writer of novels, short stories, plays and criticism. Her last novel, The Accidental, won the Whitbread Novel Award in 2005 and was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Kevin Dunion will be honoured with an Hon LLD (Doctor of Laws) while Karen Armstrong and Ali Smith will be made honorary Doctors of Letters (DLitt) at the ceremonies in the Younger Hall on St Andrews Day.
Note to Picture Editors
Photocalls with the honorary graduates will take place in St Salvator’s Quadrangle, North Street, St Andrews after each ceremony.
Karen Armstrong will graduate in the second ceremony of the day (12.30pm – 2pm).
Kevin Dunion and Ali Smith will graduate in the third ceremony of the day (3.30pm – 5pm).