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Olympics, Weirdstones, Pepsi and New York feature in Warwick’s Honorary Degrees

The University of Warwick has announced the names of four people who will be awarded Honorary degree in its Winter degree ceremonies in January 2011. It includes acclaimed, prize winning Cheshire author Alan Garner; John Armitt, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA); Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo; and John Sexton, President of New York University. Brief biographies of all four graduands now follow along with the title of the degree they will receive.

John Armitt, CBE
Hon DSc (Honorary Doctor of Science)

John Armitt is Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) – the body responsible for constructing the facilities, venues and infrastructure for the 2012 London Olympics. He was appointed to the ODA in September 2007, bringing to the post extensive experience in building, civil engineering and industrial construction markets.

John trained in Portsmouth as a civil engineer and in 1966 took his first job as a graduate engineer with John Laing Construction. During his 27 years with the firm, he was involved in a number of important projects (such as the construction of the Sizewell B Nuclear power Station), ultimately rising to become Chairman of their International and Civil Engineering Divisions in 1987. From 1993 to 1997 he was Chief Executive of Union Railways, the company responsible for the development of the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link, which opened in 2007. In 1997, he joined Costain as Chief Executive, moving to Railtrack, plc in December 2001. In 2002, he became Chief Executive of Network Rail, which took over the running of Britain’s rail infrastructure and embarked on a huge programme of track renewal and enhancement work, as well as the biggest public safety campaign in the rail industry’s history.

In 1996, he was awarded the CBE for his contribution to the rail industry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Institution of Civil Engineers, and is also Chairman of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Alan Garner OBE              
Hon DLitt (Honorary Doctor of Letters)

Alan Garner is an acclaimed, prize winning Cheshire author whose novels are not only firmly established as classics of English literature but are also loved and treasured by both children and adults. It is particularly fitting that this honorary degree should be announced in this month as October 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of his first published novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The book has never been out of print and has been enjoyed by several generations of children.

Alan was born in Cheshire and grew up Alderley Edge.  His family roots are in Cheshire and the area around Alderley Edge, where he lives now, and that area has greatly influenced his writing. Many of his works, including The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, and more recently Thursbitch, draw on the legends and geography of Alderley Edge.

His first three books - The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and Elidor – were fantasy, and marketed for children. However he has also written acclaimed novels that are aimed at adults such as Thursbitch (2003). His fourth book, The Owl Service (1968), was also aimed at children. It won both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal and established him as one of the UK’s leading writers.

The Owl Service was also made into a TV series broadcast in the winter of 1969-1970 for which Alan Garner himself wrote the scripts. It remains one of the most haunting children’s TV series ever made. An audio dramatisation of The Owl Service was also transmitted by BBC Radio 4 in 2000. Many of his other works have been adapted for television and in 1981 he himself made a film, Image and Landscape, which won first prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.

His other novels include Red Shift (1973), Strandloper (1996) and Thursbitch (2003); he has also written collections of short stories – The Stone Book received the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association (USA) in 1996 and The Voice That Thunders, a collection of essays and lectures, was published in 1997. In 2001, Alan Garner was awarded the OBE for services to children’s literature.

Indra Nooyi
Hon LLD (Honorary Doctor of Laws)

Indra Nooyi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, which holds the world’s largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands and employs 285,000 people worldwide.

Mrs Nooyi was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. She holds a BS from Madras Christian College, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and a Master of Public and Private Management from Yale University. She began her career in India, later joining the Boston Consulting Group, directing international corporate strategy projects. Top management positions followed at Motorola and Asea Brown Boven.

She joined PepsiCo in 1994, becoming Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Development in 1996, President and Chief Financial Officer in 2001, President and Chief Executive Officer in 2006, and Chairman in 2007. She has directed the company’s global strategy and led its restructuring over a period that included the acquisition of Tropicana and the merger with Quaker Oats. She is the chief architect of the company’s growth strategy, Performance with Purpose, which focuses on sustainable growth and includes a commitment to reduce the use of energy, water and packaging.

She has been Chairwoman of the US-India Business Council, and serves on the boards of the US-China Business Council, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum. She has been awarded the Barnard Medal of Honor by Barnard College, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2007, she received the Government of India’s Padma Bhushan Award  and in 2009 was named CEO of the Year by Global Supply Chain Leaders Group.

Dr John Sexton
Hon LLD (Honorary Doctor of Laws)

John Sexton is President of New York University (NYU), a position which he has held since 2002. Previously, he was Dean of the NYU School of Law - one of the USA’s top five law schools - and until 2008 also served as Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Dr Sexton ‘s own higher education took place at Fordham University, where he obtained a BA in History, an MA in comparative religion and a PhD in the history of American religion. He holds a JD from Harvard Law School, where he also worked for the Harvard law Review. He was Law Clerk to the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Warren Burger, and is a former president of the Association of American Law Schools. He has co-authored the most widely used legal textbook in the United States – Civil Procedure: Cases and Materials, and his many other books and articles include reflections on the nature of higher education and the challenges currently facing universities.

Dr Sexton’s tenure of the presidency of NYU has seen a significant increase in applications, and the transformation of NYU into a Global Network University. Ten international academic centres have been set up and in September 2010 NYU opened a campus in Abu Dhabi to its first undergraduates. Dr Sexton – who continues to teach on the undergraduate programme in New York – has also begun an ambitious fundraising programme to increase the University’s endowment through the Campaign for NYU.

John Sexton is also a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur of France.

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, email: p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk
Head of Communications, Communications Office, University House,
University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 8UW, United Kingdom     
Tel: (+44) (0)24 7652 3708
Mobile: (+44) (0)77 6765 5860
Fax: 024 7652 8194 

PR 137 19th October 2010