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Honorary Degrees for 2024

Academic Gowns and Robes hanging up

Explore the recipients of Durham University's Honorary Degrees and Awards for 2024.

Winter Congregation 2024 recipients:

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Dame Sarah Connolly honorary degree. Credit Durham University-Ede & Ravenscroft PhotographSarah Connolly - Doctor of Music

Biography: Dame Sarah Connolly is a mezzo-soprano known internationally for her baroque, classical and Wagnerian roles. She is a renowned concert and recital singer. 

She was born in County Durham and studied piano and singing at the Royal College of Music, of which she is now a Fellow. 

In 2011 she was honoured by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and presented with the Distinguished Musician Award. She is the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 2012 Singer Award where she is also an Honorary Member. 

She was appointed a CBE in 2010 and a DBE in 2017 for services to music. 

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Dr Desra Percaya honorary degree. Credit Durham University-Ede & Ravenscroft PhotographyDesra Percaya - Doctor of Civil Law

Biography: Ambassador Desra Percaya, PhD, currently serves as the Indonesian Ambassador to the UK, with accreditation to Ireland and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In his role in shaping Indonesia's foreign policy, he has been a leading figure in the nation's initiatives for international peace, security, human rights, law, conflict resolution, legal affairs, and economic development.

From 2009 to 2020, he held significant positions, including Director General for Asia Pacific Affairs, Indonesia's Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

Ambassador Percaya pursued his education at various universities in Indonesia, Switzerland, and the UK, specifically at the University of Birmingham and Durham University.

In 2014, he was conferred an honorary doctorate in Diplomacy by the University of Birmingham. 

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Alison Gowman honorary degree. Credit Durham University-Ede & Ravenscroft PhotographyAlison Gowman - Doctor of Civil Law

Biography: Alison Gowman has forged a successful career in both the law and politics.

After graduating from Durham University in 1977, Alison worked for global law firm DLA Piper, becoming their first female partner. 

She is an Alderman for Dowgate Ward and served as Sheriff of the City of London. She is a leading proponent on environmental issues and a founder of the City's climate action strategy.

Alison has made a significant contribution to sustainability and green finance and is passionate about philanthropy and diversity in business. She also brings her considerable experience to organisations including the Museum of London and St Paul's Cathedral, where she is a Lay Canon. 

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Lord Kim Darroch honorary degree. Credit Durham University-Ede & Ravenscroft PhotographyKim Darroch - Doctor of Civil Law

Biography: The Lord Darroch of Kew KCMG (Kim Darroch) is a former diplomat, serving as UK Ambassador to the United States between 2016 and 2019. He also served as National Security Adviser and UK Permanent Representative to the European Union.

Lord Darroch is a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG). He was created Baron Darroch of Kew and St Mawes in 2019 and is a member of the House of Lords.

He graduated from Durham with a degree in Zoology in 1975 and maintains a strong connection with the University. 

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Congregation is an annual event at Durham. The ceremonies allow our students to celebrate all they have achieved in their time at university, not only academic, but social and pastoral too.