News and events archive 2004 - 2013


Rt Hon The Baroness Amos

Rt Hon The Baroness Amos of Brondesbury: The first black female member of a British Cabinet

Leader of Lords Honoured by University

The Rt Hon The Baroness Amos of Brondesbury is among 11 people who will receive honorary degrees from the University of Leicester at ceremonies to be held in De Montfort Hall from 11th –14th July

The honorary degrees are awarded in acknowledgement of the distinctive contributions and achievements heir recipients have made within their respective fields. The University will also be conferring two Distinguished Honorary Fellowships.

Baroness Amos will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on 14th July.

Valerie Amos was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council in October 2003, where she continues to speak on international development issues for the government in the House of Lords.

Previously Secretary of State for International Development in May 2003, she became the first black female member of a British Cabinet. A Government Whip in the House of Lords (1998 to 2001) and spokesperson on Social Security, International Development and Women's Issues, Baroness Amos became Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs from June 2001 with responsibility for Africa, the Commonwealth, the Caribbean, Britain’s Overseas Territories, Consular Affairs and Personnel Issues.

She was created a Labour life peer in August 1997 and took her title having lived in Brent since the 1980s.

Valerie Amos was born in Guyana and moved to Great Britain with her family in 1963. Educated at the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and East Anglia, she then started working in equal opportunities, training and management services in the London local authorities of Lambeth, Camden and Hackney. Between 1989 and 1994 she was Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission which works to eliminate sex discrimination and promote equal opportunities for women and men.

Valerie Amos was co-founder and director of Amos Fraser Bernard from 1995 until she joined the government and worked as an adviser to the South African Government on public service reform, human rights and employment equity. She has served as Chair of the Afiya Trust, deputy chair of the Runnymede Trust and as a trustee of Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) among other bodies.

Baroness Amos said:

"I am delighted to have received on honorary degree from Leicester University today."

"Leicester has always been an important part of my life. My sister attended the University in the 1970s, so I was a frequent visitor, made firm friends and have fond memories of our time in the city."

"Today the family contact has continued as my nephew is now studies here at the University."

"Leicester has a unique heritage of bring people of different races and cultures together and today can boast of having one of the most diverse and successful cities in the UK. I am proud to be associated with that legacy."

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Burgess said:

"As we celebrate the success of our students, we are always delighted to award honorary degrees to people whose contribution to their local communities, society and the world at large is indisputable.

“This has been a very special year for the University- we were ranked joint first for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey amongst institutions with full-time provision and we have broken into the top 20 of the Times Good University Guide for the first time.

“These are tremendous successes at a time that Leicester is investing heavily for the future- our £300m Development Plan has seen new state-of-the-art facilities come on stream providing new opportunities for advances in research and teaching excellence.

“It is appropriate that graduation, a time of celebration of individual achievement and merit, provides an occasion for the University to mark its collective achievement alongside personalities who have contributed so significantly to society.”

University of Leicester Awards:

Morning ceremonies start at 11am and afternoon ceremonies start at 3pm. All ceremonies are held at De Montfort Hall, Leicester

Distinguished Honorary Fellows:

  • Lord Attenborough -13th July (pm)
  • Sir David Attenborough -13th July (pm)


  • Ms Patricia Barker – Doctor of Letters -11th July (pm), Novelist
  • Mr Norman Rosenthal –Doctor of Letters - 11th July (pm), Leicester graduate. Exhibitions Secretary, Royal Academy of Arts
  • Professor Richard Holmes – Doctor of Letters - 12th July (am), Professor of Military and Security Studies, Cranfield University
  • Sir Mike Tomlinson- Doctor of Laws - 12th July (am), Former HM Chief Inspector of Schools; Chairman of Hackney Education Trust
  • Ms Marina Warner- Doctor of Letters -12th July (pm), Writer and Critic
  • Mr John Bloor –Doctor of Laws - 13th July (am), Owner of Bloor Holdings, leading Midlands housebuilder with numerous subsidiary interests, including Triumph
  • Professor Martin Taylor –Doctor of Science- 13th July (am), Professor of Pure Mathematics, University of Manchester
  • Professor Dame Carol Black –Doctor of Science-14th July (am), President, Royal College of Physicians; Professor of Rheumatology,UCL
  • Professor Sir George Radda –Doctor of Science-14th July (am), Former Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council
  • The Rt Hon The Baroness Amos – Doctor of Laws- 14th July (pm), Leader of the House of Lords since 2003
  • Professor Laurie Taylor –Doctor of Letters- 14th July (pm), Leicester graduate. Former Professor of Sociology at York. THES columnist.
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