As a special mark of esteem, the University of Leicester is conferring an honorary degree on its Vice-Chancellor, who is due to retire in September 1999 after twelve years at the helm.
Dr Ken Edwards will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in a ceremony to be held at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester, in July.
Speaking of his pleasure at receiving this honorary degree, he said : "It confirms the feeling of warmth that Leicester has shown me. It has been a friendly University and I have enjoyed my time here enormously. I feel it has been an honour to be Vice-Chancellor here for 12 years, so this doubles my sense of appreciation.
"One of the achievements I am particularly pleased about is the creation of the National Space Science Centre in Leicester, because of the opportunity it will offer to demonstrate to schoolchildren and adults how exciting science is. It is also a wonderful example of the flourishing relationship between the University and the City.
"Looking back over the years, I have seen an enormous increase in the size of the University and a lot of changes. It has a very good spirit, with a high level of commitment from everyone who works here. It has been a challenge to cope with the rapid growth of the University throughout the 1990s. Full-time student numbers have risen from approximately 5,000 to 9,000 and it has been rewarding to see the development of distance learning programmes which now attract almost 6,000 students."
When he retires in September Dr Edwards will return to live in Cambridge, but has no plans to take life easy. "My position as President of the Association of European Universities (CRE) continues for another three years and this will help to keep me in contact with the university scene. I see the CRE as an exciting challenge at a time when higher education will make an ever greater contribution to the development of Europe.
"I am also looking forward to reading more and I intend to do some writing on the place of science in the world. There are problems communicating what science is about. Scientists need to demonstrate that the subject is fun and uses the imagination."
The University of Leicester is not the only academic body to honour Dr Edwards. In May 1999 he received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Universitatea Babes-Bolyai Cluj-Napoca in Romania, and in January 2000 the University of Warwick will confer on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. He already has honorary degrees from Queen's University, Belfast; Reading University; Loughborough University; and University College, Northampton. He is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
He is delighted to be acknowledged in this way, and feels that he received the Doctor Honoris Causa - rarely awarded by the Romanian University - as a reflection of the fact that he is President of the CRE.
A geneticist, Dr Edwards came to Leicester as Vice-Chancellor after 21 years at Cambridge University, where he went in 1966 as Lecturer in the Department of Genetics. In 1971 he was elected to a Fellowship at St John's College, Cambridge and served as Secretary to the College Council from 1975-77. In 1981 he became Head of the Genetics Department of Cambridge until 1984, during which period he was also - from 1982 - Chairman of the Council of the School of Biological Sciences. In 1984 he was appointed to the post of Secretary General of the Faculties, one of the three principal administrative offices of the University of Cambridge.
During his time at Leicester he has been Chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) from 1993-95. Currently he is still a member of the Council of CVCP and chairs its Medical Committee and its Research Policy Committee.
He was also particularly pleased to have recently been Chairman of the governing body of the Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER) since this - albeit under a different name - was where his early research in Genetics was carried out.
Dr Edwards is a member of the governing body of Sheffield Hallam University and of the Council of the Open University. From 1991-94 he was a member of the Trent Regional Health Authority and from 1994-98 he served on the Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Dr Edwards is one of ten people prominent in the worlds of academia, medicine, science, industry and public life to receive an honorary degree from Leicester University in July.
The full list of honorands is:
Mr Tim Appleton, Manager of the Rutland Water Nature Reserve; Professor Dame Gillian Beer, DBE, FBA, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge; Dr Philip Campbell, Editor of Nature; Dr Ken Edwards, Vice-Chancellor of Leicester University who retires in September; Professor Fred Leckie, Department of Engineering, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA; Mr Chris Moon, a former Captain in the Royal Anglian Regiment, now an active campaigner against the use of land mines; Professor Sir Keith Peters, FRS, Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Cambridge; The Honourable Raymond Seitz, former US Ambassador to the UK; Sir Richard Sykes, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of Glaxo Wellcome; and Professor Sir Anthony Wrigley, FBA, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
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