Archbishop is first honorary doctor

The Archbishop of York has been made the first Honorary Doctor of the University of Cumbria
The Archbishop of York has been made the first Honorary Doctor of the University of Cumbria

The Lancaster-based University of Cumbria has awarded the first Honorary Doctorate to Dr John Sentamu.

The Archbishop of York is the institutions chancellor and the tables were turned on him at the winter graduations where he had been handing out honours to students - he became the recipient.

l-r: Professor Diane Cox, director of research at University of Cumbria, with  Chancellor, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell after Dr Sentamu was presented with the university's first honorary doctorate, Carlisle Cathedral.

l-r: Professor Diane Cox, director of research at University of Cumbria, with Chancellor, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Vice Chancellor Professor Julie Mennell after Dr Sentamu was presented with the university's first honorary doctorate, Carlisle Cathedral.

Besides the inaugural doctorship, he is also the first person to wear the distinctive blue and silver robe that will be worn by those who will receive PhDs and other research awards from the university in the future.

It follows the Privy Council’s successful granting of Research Degree Awarding Powers to the university earlier this year.

Since his inauguration as Chancellor in August 2007, Dr Sentamu has been a regualr visitor to both the Lancaster and Cumbria campuses and shaken the hands of around 33,000 UoC graduates .

Born in Uganda in 1949 and trained in law, Dr Sentamu was ordained as a priest in 1979, before becoming Bishop of Stepney in 1996, and Bishop of Birmingham in 2002.

He was installed as Archbishop of York in 2005 and is retiring in June, just days before his 71st birthday.

He is Primate of England and Metropolitan, a member of the House of Lords and a Privy Councillor.

Professor Diane Cox, the university's director of research , said: “In the last 12 years Dr Sentamu has supported and guided our university through periods of significant change, investment and development.

“He has promoted academic excellence throughout his tenure and endorsed our activities toward achieving research degree awarding powers – successfully attained in March 2019.

“Dr Sentamu will retire in June 2020 and we pay tribute to the vision, enthusiasm and determination he has shown throughout his life and career – he is an inspirational leader and ambassador for young people as the leaders of today."

University vice chancellor Professor Julie Mennell, added: "It is an absolute pleasure and privilege to be in the position to mark the incredible and outstanding achievement of our Chancellor. All of us who make the university community of which our chancellor is our figurehead and guide subscribe extremely strongly and passionately to the university mission and our values.”

Dr Sentamu said: “I feel like a parent watching a child grow. I’m leaving at a time when the finances, the teaching and research, the vision and the mission of the university are now flourishing.

"The vice chancellor has been here for three years and has strengthened considerably the leadership team and sense of university community, members of whom are all determined to act together to make this a university not only for and of the region, but also the UK.”

Another 1,000 graduates have had their degrees and awards conferred by the chancellor at a series of eight ceremonies in Carlisle Cathedral.