Academics and graduates given honorary degrees and benefactor recognised

One of the most senior members of the Royal Navy, an eminent law expert and a world renowned authority on respiratory conditions were given honorary degrees at the University of Sheffield’s 2012 graduation ceremonies.

Joining hundreds of students from the University’s many departments, the three esteemed recipients received accolades for their excellent contribution to their chosen fields and/or significant personal achievements.

Sir Sze-yuen Chung, a former industrialist, business executive and politician, was also added to the University’s Benefactors’ Board in Firth Court. Sir SY, as he is known, graduated from the University more than 60 years ago and recently made a one million US dollars donation to the University which will be used in the Faculty of Engineering to provide state-of-the-art expansions to teaching spaces and new research equipment.

Admiral Charles MontgomeryVice Admiral Charles Montgomery, the Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, who is responsible for the critical areas of Personnel and Training and holds one of the most senior positions in the Royal Navy, was first to receive his award, a Doctor of Engineering, on Thursday (12 January 2012).

Vice Admiral Montgomery was born in Rotherham in 1955 but grew up in Sheffield. After school he joined the Royal Navy through the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, but soon returned to Yorkshire where he spent the first three years of his service studying a BEng degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University.

He graduated in 1976 and began his progression through the ranks in the Royal Navy, being promoted to Rear Admiral in 2008. He has also held the position of Naval Secretary and Chief of Staff (Personnel), where he was responsible for all naval personnel and their deployment.

Also on Thursday, a former Pro-Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Law, Emeritus Professor David McClean, received a Doctor of Letters. His services to law in this country were recognised in 1995 by conferment of the honorary title of Queen’s Counsel and academic recognition of his legal prowess was marked by his election to the British Academy in 2003.

A very important part of Professor McClean’s work outside his academic responsibilities, has been his legal involvement with the Church of England and he was a member of the General Synod fProfessor Dirkje Postmaor thirty-five years. He also served as Chairman of the House of Laity from 1985 to 1995.

Professor Dirkje Postma received a Doctor of Medicine on Friday, for her tireless research into asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) - two diseases with enormous global impact. She has an international reputation for advancing our understanding of these two conditions. 

In 1975, as a medical student at Groningen University, she travelled from her native Netherlands to take up a student assistantship at the University of Sheffield with Dr Peter Howard, a distinguished respiratory physician.

Professor Postma holds a Chair in Pulmonology at University Hospital Groningen where she is also the Head of the Groningen Research Institute for Asthma and COPD. She was also elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London and, in 2000, received the Spinoza Award from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, an award that is described as both the crown jewel of Dutch science and scholarship and the Dutch Nobel Prize.

Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "The University is delighted to award honorary degrees to people who have made such a significant contribution to their field. We are privileged that these national and eminent figures are coming to the University, which was recently named University of the Year by Times Higher Education, to accept their Honorary Doctorates as they are excellent role models to our students.”

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