Eight honorary doctorates to be awarded in 2012

12 Jun 2012 - 16:59

Honorary degrees UCT will award eight honorary degrees at its June and December graduations this year, the recipients drawn from the arts, economics, laws, m edicine and science. They are Marlene Dumas, Jonathan Ellis, Nicholas Haysom, Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, Allan Gray, David Sanders and Zakes Mda.

Artist Marlene Dumas will be presented with a Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Widely regarded as one of the most influential painters working today, Dumas has continuously explored the complex range of human emotions. Born in Cape Town, she obtained a fine arts degree from UCT's Michaelis School of Fine Art before continuing her studies in the Netherlands. Her work appears in collections in many countries, including South Africa, the US, Japan and across Europe.

British theoretical physicist Jonathan Ellis, hailed as one of the pioneers working at the interface between particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and quantum gravity, will receive a Doctor of Science degree. Ellis - who in 1976 proposed techniques to find the elementary particular gluon - spent much of his scholarly career with the European Centre for Nuclear Research. Currently the Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's College London, he has also made substantial contributions to physics in South Africa.

Allan Gray, the founder of Allan Gray Limited, the largest privately-owned investment management firm in Southern Africa, will receive a Doctor of Economic Science degree. Educated at Rhodes and Harvard, where he obtained an MBA, Gray has been described as arguably the most successful self-made South African business executive. A philanthropist who has consistently supported higher education in South Africa, he is renowned for his pioneering approach to investment.

Nicholas Haysom, who will be awarded a Doctor of Law degree, is a leading expert on constitutional processes and conflict resolution. A UCT law graduate, Haysom was directly involved as both a negotiator and an advisor in the negotiation of South Africa's interim and final constitutions. He served as then President Nelson Mandela's legal advisor, and in 2007 was appointed as political director in the executive office of the United Nations Secretary-General, advising on missions around the globe.

Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler of the Handspring Puppet Company will receive Doctor of Literature degrees, recognising their outstanding contributions to contemporary theatre. Both graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at UCT in 1974, and established the company, along with two other graduates, in 1981. Handspring has since become one of the best known and respected puppet companies in the world, their collaboration with, among others, the Royal National Theatre's Warhorse project winning international acclaim.

Born and trained in Zimbabwe, David Sanders is an iconic figure in public health and was awarded a Doctor of Science in Medicine degree at the June graduation. Sanders' work has helped shape primary health care locally and internationally. Based at the University of the Western Cape, where he established South Africa's first and much-mimicked multidisciplinary master's programme in public health, he works on policy and service issues with national and international organisations, including the WHO and Save the Children.

Novelist, poet, playwright, painter, composer and film-maker, Zakes Mda was awarded a Doctor of Literature degree at the June graduation. Mda left the country at 14, when his father went into exile in 1963, returning to South Africa only after three decades. A key figure in South African literature, Mda now commutes between South Africa (where he serves as director of the South African Multimedia AIDS trust in Sophiatown) and the US, where he is a professor of creative writing at Ohio University. His many accolades include the Commonwealth Book Prize, and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, while his 2004 novel, The Madonna of Excelsior, was one of the Top Ten South African Books Published in the Decade of Democracy.