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Innovative, pioneering, influential - Leeds honours excellence

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose and BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson are amongst the famous names being honoured this month with honorary degrees.

Alan Yentob, Angel Gurría, Ingrid Roscoe, Elaine Oran and Lesley Dixon complete this year's line-up for the honorary degree ceremonies, which will take place on 15 and 16 July 2010.

Lesley Dixon

Lesley Dixon was chief executive of the Leeds University Union from 2000 to 2009 before taking up a position as chief executive of Liverpool social care charity PSS. Her time at Leeds culminated in LUU winning the 2009 NUS Higher Education Students' Union of the Year Award. Lesley studied Business at the University of East London before becoming the Commercial Manager of King's College London's Students' Union in 1989. She is also a Trustee of the Together Women Project - a charity working with female offenders - and leading mental health charity Mind. Lesley Dixon will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Angel Gurría

Angel Gurría is Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Born in Mexico, Angel Gurría graduated with an MA in Economics from the University of Leeds. Under his leadership, OECD has helped governments around the world foster prosperity and fight poverty, becoming an active participant in both the G-8 and the G-20 Summit processes. Before taking up his current position he had a distinguished career in Mexican politics, as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance and Public Credit. Angel Gurría will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Elaine Oran

Pioneering scientist Dr Elaine Oran leads a team that invented computational technology for the simulation of complex reactive flows, a universally important field that has applications in areas as diverse as rocket propulsion, astrophysics and material engineering. A senior scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Lab, Dr Oran is also a visiting professor at the University of Leeds. She was educated at the Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and Yale University and is a dedicated supporter of women in science campaigns. Dr Oran will receive an honorary doctorate of sciences.

Ingrid Roscoe

Ingrid Roscoe is Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and a leading arts writer. She came to the University of Leeds in 1980 to study Fine and Decorative Arts before completing a PhD on eighteenth century British sculpture, which was later published by the Walpole Society. Dr Roscoe lectured at Leeds through most of the 90s and became the first lady Lord-Lieutenant in the north of England in 2004. She is also trustee the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Honorary Colonel of Leeds University Officer Training Corps. Dr Roscoe will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Sir Stuart Rose

Sir Stuart is Chairman of Marks & Spencer and was knighted in 2008 for services to the retail industry and corporate social responsibility. He was born in Hampshire and attended a Quaker boarding school in York, before beginning his career with M&S in 1972. Spells at Burton Group, Argos PLC, Booker PLC and Arcadia Group followed before Rose re-joined M&S as chief executive in 1994. Rose will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

John Sentamu

John Sentamu is the Archbishop of York and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was born in Uganda in where he was educated by English missionaries and teachers. He studied law at Makerere University in Kampala and practised at the Bar and at the Bench before he came to the UK in 1974 to study theology at Cambridge. In addition to his career in the church, Dr Sentamu was also and adviser to the Stephen Lawrence Judicial Inquiry and he chaired the Damilola Taylor Murder Review in 2002. He was Bishop for both Stepney and Birmingham before being confirmed as the 97th Archbishop of York in 2005. Dr Sentamu will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

John Simpson

John Simpson is the BBC's World Affairs Editor and one of the world's most experienced and authoritative journalists. Born in 1944, John was brought up in London and Suffolk, and educated at St Paul's School and Magdalene College, Cambridge where he read English. His first job with the BBC was as a trainee sub-editor in Radio News in 1966. Four decades later, he has reported from 120 countries across the globe, from 36 war zones, and has interviewed more than 150 kings, presidents and prime ministers. Simpson will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Alan Yentob

Alan Yentob is creative director of the BBC, and along with Melvyn Bragg, is one of the titans of British cultural broadcasting. Born in London 1947, he spent his early years in Manchester before returning to London. He studied law at the University of Leeds before joining the BBC's World Service in 1968. In 1973 he became a producer and director working on the documentary series, Omnibus, and he conceived the arts series Arena in 1978. He remained series editor until 1985 when he began his BBC arts reign, becoming one of the youngest controllers of BBC2 and then BBC1. Yentob will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Media opportunities

Thursday 15 July

BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Chief Executive of social care charity PSS Lesley Dixon - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Secretary-General of the OECD Angel Gurria - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Pioneering scientist Elaine Oran - Honorary Doctorate of Sciences

Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Ingrid Roscoe - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

They will be available for a photocall with University Chancellor Lord Bragg and Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur in the Clothworkers' Court (beside the Great Hall) at the University of Leeds at 3.10pm.

Friday 16 July

BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Marks & Spencer Chairman Sir Stuart Rose - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

Archbishop of York John Sentamu - Honorary Doctorate of Laws

They will be available for a photocall with University Chancellor Lord Bragg and Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Arthur in the Clothworkers' Court (beside the Great Hall) at the University of Leeds at 8.55am.

Sir Stuart Rose and Professor Michael Arthur will also attend a ceremony to formally mark the start of construction work on the new Marks & Spencer Company Archive on the University of Leeds' Western Campus at 1pm.

For further information:

Please contact the University of Leeds Press Office on +44 (0)113 343 4031 or email

Notes to editors:

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK with more than 30,000 students from 130 countries. With a total annual income of almost £450m, Leeds is one of the top ten research universities in the UK, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. It was placed 80th in the 2007 Times Higher Education's world universities league table. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015.

Since its foundation, the University of Leeds has conferred honorary awards on a host of individuals from the worlds of science, art, academia, industry, politics, medicine, entertainment - and many other fields. Among those honoured at the University's first honorary degree ceremony in 1904 were poet laureate Alfred Austin and composer Sir Edward Elgar. A full year-by-year list of honorary graduates can be found here:

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