6 July 2000
For immediate release
Key figures from the worlds of publishing, music, mathematics and environmental politics will be collecting honorary degrees at the University of Sussex summer graduation ceremonies on July 11.
They will join some 1,600 students, plus families and friends, for the event at the Brighton Centre, where the University's Chancellor, Lord Attenborough, will confer the awards.
Honorary graduands at the morning ceremony, which starts at 10.15am, are Gail Rebuck, chief executive of the UK's largest publishing company, the Random House Group, who will become a Doctor of Letters, and Jonathan Harvey, internationally renowned composer and former Professor of Music at Sussex, who will become Doctor of Music.
At the afternoon ceremony, which begins at 3pm, Jonathon Porritt, former director of Friends of the Earth and now a director of Forum for the Future, will become Doctor of Laws, and John Ball, eminent mathematician and Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Oxford, will become Doctor of Science.
Speaking before the ceremony, Sussex graduate Ms Rebuck said the occasion would be a novel experience for her. "I didn't go to my own graduation in 1974," she explained. "It just wasn't the thing you did in those days." But she believes her years of studying intellectual history at the University were to shape her future success. "I run a creative company and I found the Sussex system encouraged creativity through treating individuals as such."
Jonathan Harvey, who taught at Sussex for 18 years and lives in Lewes, is equally grateful for the Sussex experience. "I came here from Southampton University and it was a liberation for me. Southampton was quite strict in its approach to music teaching. Here I was able to meet students from other disciplines and hear different ideas."
Jonathon Porritt said he felt "very honoured" to be offered his degree. "I much admire the constant pursuit of excellence at Sussex, particularly in my own areas of interest," he said. "I am delighted at the prospect of being more closely connected with the University in the future."
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Biographies of honorary graduands are below.
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Professor John Ball
Both through his research and by his support of scientific institutions, eminent mathematician Professor John Ball has made an important contribution to furthering our knowledge of the laws of nature. An alumnus of the University of Sussex, where he gained a DPhil in Mechanical Engineering, he first found acclaim through his work on non-linear elasticity. More recently, he has worked on phase transition in crystals and various problems in the microstructure of materials.
He currently holds the post of Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Oxford and has had many honours bestowed upon him throughout his career. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1989 and was president of the London Mathematical Society from 1996-98. Last year he was awarded the Theodore von Karman Prize of the American Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
Professor Ball's contribution to the academic community has been significant. He played a major role in establishing the Edinburgh International Centre for Mathematical Sciences, has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Isaac Newton Institute, and was a Council member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for 1994-99.
Professor Jonathan Harvey
Through combining his extraordinary musicianship with an imaginative use of electronics, Professor Jonathan Harvey has gained an international reputation as a modern composer. His works, which total about 100, are performed all over the world by some of the finest contemporary music groups. His opera Inquest of Love, premiered at the London Coliseum in 1993, was acclaimed as an 'outstanding achievement' by the English National Opera. Other notable works include Percussion Concerto, performed by Evelyn Glennie at the 1997 BBC Promenade Concerts, and Song Offerings, for which he received the prestigious Britten Award for composition in 1993.
Educated at St Michael's College, Tenbury, he went on to study music at St John's College, Cambridge and gained doctorates from the Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow. He lectured at the University of Southampton for 13 years before joining the University of Sussex in 1977, where he became Professor of Music. He left the post in 1993 to devote more time to composition. Since 1995, he has been Professor of Music at Stanford University, California.
Professor Harvey has served on several national fund-awarding organisations, including the British Council Music Advisory Panel, the Royal College of Music Academic Committee and the Academia Europaea Music Advisory Sub-committee.
Jonathon Porritt has been an influential advocate on behalf of the environment over the last 25 years and has become a familiar voice on 'green' matters. Under his directorship between 1984 and 1990, Friends of the Earth was transformed from a small pressure group into an effective lobbying organisation with more than 200,000 members. He remains a special advisor to Friends of the Earth.
Since 1996 he has been a director of Forum for the Future, which works with leading businesses to seek solutions to environmental problems. He is also a trustee of the WWF UK, vice-president of the Socialist Environment Resources Association, chairman of the Agricultural Reform Group and vice-president of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. His latest book, Playing Safe: Science and the Environment, looks at the benefits and risks of scientific advancement.
Born in London and educated at Eton and Oxford (where he was awarded a First Class degree in modern languages), Jonathon Porritt worked as a teacher in drama and English at a West London comprehensive for ten years before joining Friends of the Earth. He received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.
As chairman and chief executive of the Random House Group Ltd, the UK's largest trade publishing company, Gail Rebuck is regarded as one of the most important figures in the publishing world today. Her commitment to quality is evident from the distinguished authors published by the group, such as Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Bill Bryson and Germaine Greer.
Ms Rebuck was educated at the Lycée Français de Londres and the University of Sussex, where she read Intellectual History, before starting her career in publishing as a production assistant. In 1982 she became a founder director of Century Publishing, which later merged with Hutchinson and was acquired by Random House in 1989. In 1991 she was appointed chairman and chief executive of Random House UK, with overall responsibility for the company, its distribution centres and overseas subsidiaries in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
She is a member of the Government's Creative Industries Task Force and has been a trustee of the Institute for Public Policy since 1993. She is also a member of the Court of the University of Sussex and a member of the Council of the Royal College of Art. She was awarded a CBE in the 2000 New Year's Honours List.