University of Leicester eBulletin

University of Leicester Honours Distinguished Figures

February 2003

A total of 1,400 postgraduate students celebrated success at the University of Leicester when they were awarded their degrees on Friday, January 24, 2003.

They joined the growing number of University of Leicester graduates around the world – the University has the UK’s largest number of taught postgraduate students.

On the same occasion the University of Leicester honoured four distinguished people at the Degree Congregation held at De Montfort Hall, Leicester.


[Photo: Photographer Colin Brooks and Honorary Graduate Andrew Constantine]
SMART MOVE: University Registrar Keith Julian stepped into the role of photographer for this picture of University photographer Colin Brooks (left) with Honorary Graduate Andrew Constantine

The honorary graduates of the University of Leicester are:


The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester
Dr Margaret Gelling, OBE, President of the English Place Name Society


Mr Andrew Constantine, Conductor and Director of Music of the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra and conductor of many well-known orchestras, for example the London Symphony Orchestra


Sir Derek Thomas, Chairman of Governors of the British Institute in Florence and former British Ambassador to Italy.

Among the students gaining their postgraduate qualifications are some who will have read for degrees by distance learning and will visit Leicester for the first time with their families. The University has more than 9,000 postgraduate students from over 100 countries of which nearly 6,200 study by distance learning.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, said: "I am delighted to congratulate all our graduates on their splendid achievements. The University is pleased to honour the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Margaret Gelling, Andrew Constantine and Sir Derek Thomas, all of whom have made such notable contributions in their respective fields. They offer excellent role models for the University's students.”   [Photo: Postgraduate John Hopkins on De Montfort Hall stage shaking hands with Chancellor Sir Michael Atiyah]
SUCCESSFUL: University Chancellor Sir Michael Atiyah (right) shakes hands with former University Safety Officer John Hopkins on stage at De Montfort Hall, marking conferment of a postgraduate degree

Sir Derek Thomas said: “I am greatly honoured to be awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Leicester and I hope this will help to strengthen the links between the University and the British Institute of Florence.”

Mr Andrew Constantine said: “Leicester and the people of Leicester have always been hugely supportive of my work and I’m delighted at the honour the University of Leicester is bestowing upon me.”

[Photo: Right Reverend Tim Stevens and daughter Rachel]
DOUBLE CELEBRATION: The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, recipient of an honorary degree, and his daughter Rachel, who graduated with an MSc in Social Research, pictured after the degree ceremony 
The Right Reverend Tim Stevens said: “It is a great honour to be awarded an honorary DLitt from the University of Leicester. This University has a growing international reputation in key fields of research and is a major participant in the regeneration in the City of Leicester. As a representative of the Christian communities here in the City, I am delighted to be more closely associated with a university of which we are all very proud.”  


The Right Reverend Tim Stevens

Tim Stevens read Classics and English at Cambridge before working for the British Overseas Airways Corporation between 1968 and 1972. From 1972-3 he was Second Secretary in the South Asian Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  He trained for ordination at Ripon Hall, Oxford and was ordained in 1976. He was subsequently Team Vicar of St Alban’s, Upton Park; Team Rector of the parish of Canvey Island; Archdeacon of West Ham and Bishop of Dunwich before becoming Bishop of Leicester in 1999. He is President of the Council of The Children’s Society, a Board member of the Leicester Shire Economic Partnership, and a Vice President of the Leicester Council of Faiths. He has an active interest in developing interfaith relations in Leicester.

Dr Margaret Gelling, OBE

Margaret Gelling read English at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She joined the English Place-Name Society as a research assistant in 1946, which was her first and only full-time job, lasting until 1953. Since then, her research has been mostly freelance and has contributed much to the understanding of how Anglo-Saxon names were invented by ordinary people, rather than designated by figures in authority. She also established the relationship between Anglo-Saxon names and the landscape; for example the Anglo-Saxons had about 40 words that can describe hills, but there are no synonyms.  Despite popular interest in the origins and meanings of place names, there are few specialists working in Britain.  Margaret Gelling, President of the English Place-Name Society, is perhaps the best known and she received an OBE in 1995 for her lifetime's work.

Sir Derek Thomas

Derek Thomas read modern languages at Cambridge before becoming an articled apprentice for Dolphin Industrial Developments in 1947. In 1953 he joined HM Foreign Service and in the same year became a Midshipman, and later Sub Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. He has spent his life in public service, representing British interests in the United States and Canada, as well as across Europe.  From 1984 to 1987 he was Deputy Under Secretary of State for Europe and Political Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He was then made Ambassador to Italy from 1987 to 1989. He has been a Director of Rothschild Italia and other commercial businesses. He has recently completed his second term as Chairman of the British Institute of Florence.

Andrew Constantine

Andrew Constantine studied at the Royal Northern College of Music (1980-82) the University of Leicester (1983-86) and the Leningrad State Conservatory (1991-92). He won the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in 1992, making his London debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He is considered to be one of Britain’s most dynamic and versatile conductors, and has worked with leading orchestras, artists and opera companies, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Montserrat Caballe, and the English National Opera. He was involved in the formation of Leicester’s renowned Bardi Symphony Orchestra in 1986, and has recently founded the Malcolm Sargent International Soloists’ Competition. He has also used his career to support the work of a variety of charities including Save the Children and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The honorary graduates received their degrees at the following ceremonies:

11.30 am (Faculty of the Social Sciences)
The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester (Doctor of Letters)
Dr Margaret Gelling, OBE (Doctor of Letters)

3.30 pm (Faculties of Arts, Education, Law, Medicine and Biological Sciences, Sciences)
Andrew Constantine (Doctor of Music)

Sir Derek Thomas, KDMG, (CMG) (Doctor of Laws)

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Last updated: February 2003
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