Honorary Degrees 2014

The following honorary degrees were awarded:

December 2014

Henry Louis Gates JrHenry Louis Gates Jr was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature.

Henry Louis Gates obtained his BA at Yale and his MA and PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge.

Gates, Alphonse Fletcher University professor and director of Harvard's Hutchins Center for African and African American Research (originally the WEB du Bois Institute for African and African American Research), is one of America's foremost public intellectuals. He is a literary critic, educator, scholar, documentary-maker, writer and editor of several volumes.

The major focus of Gates' work has been the figure of the African American in American and global literature and politics. His work is driven by an abiding concern with the perception of the historic diminution of blackness in the everyday world and he seeks to show the contribution to society and culture made by people of colour, and to show how important it is for scholars to develop a better understanding of how racism has blighted modern society.

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Rodney DouglasRodney Douglas was awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine.

Rodney Douglas graduated from UCT with a BSc(Med) in 1969, a MBChB in 1974 and a PhD in 1983. For the past 25 years he has worked in Zurich where he is based at the Institute of Neuroinformatics, part of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich.

Douglas has spearheaded major advances in neuroscience and in elucidating brain function. He has led several multi-centre collaborative projects, developed software, available in the public domain, to assist neuroscientists in unravelling patterns of synaptic connectivity in brain tissue, has supervised 46 PhD graduates and supported and launched many careers in neuroscience.

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William KentridgeWilliam Kentridge was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature.

William Kentridge obtained a BA from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1976, studied art at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and studied mime and theatre at L'Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq between 1981 and 1982. He is best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films.

Over the past 25 years Kentridge has matched his growing stature as an artist by an increasing presence as a public intellectual. He is extraordinarily well-read in the visual arts, music, politics and history. In 2012 he gave the Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University.

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David FanningDavid Fanning was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature.

David Fanning, who graduated from UCT in 1970 with a BA, and who had been a member of the editorial team of Varsity, is undoubtedly the most distinguished international media figure UCT has produced.

For thirty years he has been the Executive Producer of Frontline, the United State's longest-running public television documentary series distinguished for its excellence, independence and integrity. He a cultural figure of enormous significance and has maintained and extended the tradition of investigative documentary making. Fanning is committed to making his work accessible: he has stayed in the public broadcasting service, and, since 2002 Frontline has streamed most its documentaries free.

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Michael ThackerayMichael Thackeray was awarded an honorary doctorate in science.

Michael Thackeray completed BSc, BSc (Hons), MSc (1973) and PhD (1977) degrees at the University of Cape Town. Early in his career he developed the ZEBRA battery which is used in applications requiring high power and energy densities, such as in electric vehicles.

Michael Thackeray is currently the director of the Energy Frontier Research Center: Center for Electrical Energy Storage – Tailored Interfaces in a partnership between Argonne (the Argonne National Laboratory), Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Thackeray has more than 180 publications in leading journals, holds more than 25 patents and has an h-index of 61 (in other words 61 of his publications have been cited at least 61 times) and in total over 12 000 citations, and is listed on the Thomson Reuters Highly-Cited Researcher List. To put this into perspective, Hirsch (who developed the h index) estimated that after 20 years a "successful scientist" will have an h-index of 20, an "outstanding scientist" an h-index of 40, and a "truly unique" individual an h-index of 60.

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June 2014

Prof Salim Abdool KarimProfessor Salim Abdool Karim has held academic appointments at the universities of KwaZulu-Natal, Cornell, and Columbia, and has received many honours for his significant scientific contributions to the struggle against AIDS.

Karim has contributed significantly to research capacity development in South Africa, playing a role in the initiation or creation of five highly productive research centres, and has been instrumental in restoring the status of the Medical Research Council as the country's premier medical research institute. For more than a decade he served as the principal investigator of the Fogarty International Centre, which has trained more than 500 South African researchers. Karim currently chairs the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel.

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Dr Bernie Fanaroff Dr Bernie Fanaroff's achievements range from his work as a radio astronomer to contributions to the country's liberation through the trade union movement, and latterly, to South Africa's winning bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope. His studies of extragalactic radio sources were pioneering and the Fanaroff-Riley classification of radio sources, developed with Julia Riley while at Cambridge, is still used today.

During the turbulent 70s and 80s Fanaroff devoted 18 years to establishing and building the trade union movement, specifically the Metal and Allied Workers' Union, later the National Union Of Metalworkers. After a nine-year stint with the Reconstruction and Development Programme he returned to radio astronomy as part of the nascent SKA project. His acumen as a leader and his expertise in radio astronomy were crucial to South Africa's winning the bid. SKA promises to bring massive infrastructure development, create a significant legacy of skills, and attract young researchers in Africa to enter careers in science and technology.

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William CarmichaelWilliam Carmichael studied economics at Yale, Princeton, and Oxford. He came to South Africa in the mid-1970s as head of the Ford Foundation's Office for the Middle East and Africa, and in the 1980s led Ford's work in South Africa as vice-president of the Ford Foundation, responsible for its developing country programmes.

His leadership and understanding of the potential of think-tank organisations in repressive societies enabled the Ford Foundation to play an important role in support of a wide range of individuals and organisations working in civil society, both inside and outside universities. Through the generosity of the Ford Foundation and his shared advice and wisdom, Carmichael made a significant contribution to South African universities and broader South African society, particularly in education and law.

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