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Harry Potter director and Arctic explorer honoured at Graduation 2012

17 July 2012

David Yates

Harry Potter director David Yates and Arctic explorer Rosie Stancer were presented with honorary degrees on the first day of this year’s Graduation ceremonies at the University of Essex.

David graduated from Essex in 1987 with a BA Government. He has gone on to become a top film director winning BAFTA awards for his television and film work and bringing the Harry Potter film series to an epic conclusion by directing the last four of the eight films in the franchise.

He told those attending the graduation ceremony for East 15 Acting School and the Department for Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies: “Today is a celebration of everything you have achieved in your years here. I want to wish you the very, very best for the future.”

He urged graduates to maintain the “spirit, energy, conviction and enthusiasm” he had seen during his visit to the Colchester Campus.

The oration for David was given by East 15 Acting School Deputy Director Dr Michael Fry who highlighted his outstanding work in both television and film including The Way We Live Now, Sex Traffic, The Girl in the Café and of course the Harry Potter films.

Earlier in the day arctic explorer Rosie Stancer was presented with an honorary degree at the Graduation ceremony for the School of Biological Sciences.

Rosie holds the world record for being the woman to have gone the furthest solo to the North Pole.

The oration was given by Professor Martin Sellens, Director of the Centre for Sports and Exercise Science.

In response Rosie told students: “If you let fear of failure get the better of you, you won’t take the first step on your journey.”

She said her achievements were due to being able to focus clearly on her goals: “There wasn’t a day on the arctic ice that I wasn’t at some point scared witless. What propelled me on was that focus on my dream, my end goal.”

She explained: “It’s not just that end goal and realising that destination, it’s also all about the journey there. We are all going to encounter obstacles and failures, but that’s what exploration is all about.”

“Go out there and enjoy the challenges ahead, and awaken the explorer in you as well,” she added.

Biographical details of today’s Honorary Graduates:

David Yates won his first BAFTA TV Award for his work on the BBC miniseries The Way We Live Now. In 2003, he was nominated for another BAFTA TV Award for directing the drama series State of Play, for which he also won the Directors Guild of Great Britain (DGGB) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. He went on to earn an Emmy Award nomination his work on the 2005 HBO movie The Girl in the Café, a love story starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald, before completing the final four Harry Potter films. Mr Yates is one of only two directors to helm more than one Harry Potter film, the other being Chris Columbus.

Polar explorer Rosie Stancer holds the world record for being the woman to have gone the furthest solo to the North Pole.

She has taken part in a number of polar expeditions, starting in 1997 with the first all-British women’s expedition to relay to the North Pole. Two years later she was in an all-British women expedition to the South Pole, completing the 700-mile journey in 61 days. It was unguided and another first for Great Britain. In 2004, she walked alone and without resupplies to the South Pole in 43 days, smashing all previous records.

On her 2007 solo expedition, Rosie reached within 89nm of the North Pole, three times further than any other female solo explorer, before poor conditions on the ice forced the pilots to pick her up on the last week of her 84-day epic journey. This expedition set the world record for women.

Rosie is an honorary board member of Special Olympics GB (SOGB) which provides sports training and Olympic-style competition for people with learning disabilities. Described as “a cross between Tinkerbell and the Terminator”, her next polar expedition in February 2013, in aid of SOGB, will also involve taking meteorological measurements and carrying out physiological research.

Other Honorary Graduates this week include:

Bill Gore served on the University’s governing body Council from 2005 until 2011. From 2008, he was Chair of Council and Pro-Chancellor, bringing extensive financial and business expertise to the role and helping to steer the University through its significant capital investment programme. He is still involved with the University today as a director of the Knowledge Gateway project.

A chemical engineer and accountant, Mr Gore has undertaken chairman or chief executive level roles in investment opportunities across sectors from traditional British manufacturing to technology, property and green activities. He is a founding director of Manfield Partners, a London-based private equity company, and also Treasurer of the Coram Children’s Legal Centre, an independent national charity based at the University, concerned with law and policy affecting children and young people.

Professor Charles Garraway CBE is a Visiting Fellow in the Human Rights Centre at the University and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House. He is a Vice President of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. He served for 30 years as a legal officer in the UK Army Legal Services and represented the Ministry of Defence at numerous international conferences and took part in the negotiations to establish the International Criminal Court.

He was also the senior Army lawyer deployed to the Gulf during the 1990/91 Gulf Conflict. On retirement, he worked in Baghdad on transitional justice issues for the Foreign Office and later as a Senior Research Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. He has also held the Stockton Chair in International Law at the United States Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island.

Lucy Kellaway has been at the Financial Times (FT) for 20 years and is currently an Associate Editor and management columnist. She is also a regular contributor on the BBC World Service programme Business Daily. She has won the British Press Awards Columnist of the Year 2006, the Industrial Society WorkWord Award (twice), Best Commentator, Business Journalist of the Year Awards 2007 and the Wincott Young Financial Journalist Award.

In 1999, Lucy invented the FT’s satirical Martin Lukes column, which purported to be the e-mails of a fictional senior manager. A spin-off novel Martin Lukes: Who Moved My BlackBerry was published in 2005 and described by the Guardian as “a more effective and certainly more enjoyable indictment of corporate power than a shelf-load of anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation protest books”. Her comic novel In Office Hours was published in 2010.

Professor the Baroness Lister CBE, FBA, AcSS, is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University and a former Professor and Head of the Department of Applied Social Studies at the University of Bradford. From 1971 to 1987, Baroness Lister worked for the campaigning organisation Child Poverty Action Group. For the last eight of those years, she was its Director, and became the organisation’s Honorary President in 2010. In 2011, she joined the House of Lords as Labour peer the Baroness Lister of Burtersett.

Baroness Lister graduated from the University of Essex in 1970 with a BA Sociology, took an MA Multi-Racial Studies from the University of Sussex and has Honorary Doctorates from the University of Manchester and Glasgow Caledonian University. Her academic work has focused on poverty and the social security system and on a feminist approach to citizenship, with publications including Poverty and Citizenship: Feminist Perspectives.

Professor Christopher Pissarides is School Professor in Economics and Political Science at the London School of Economics (LSE). He graduated from the University of Essex with a first class BA Economics in 1970 and an MA with Distinction in 1971.

Professor Pissarides took a PhD in Economics at LSE in 1973, and after a brief spell away he has been a member of the LSE faculty ever since. In 2005 he became the first European economist to win the IZA Prize in Labor Economics and, in 2010, he won a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his analysis of markets with search frictions.

He is an elected fellow of the British Academy and has published widely on macroeconomics and the theory of labour markets. His book Equilibrium Unemployment Theory is a standard reference in the economics of unemployment. He has been President of the European Economic Association and a consultant on employment policy and other labour issues for several international organisations and national governments.

High-tech visual effects expert Kwok Yue Ellen Poon has more than 25 years of professional experience, including working as Visual Effects Supervisor at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), the film industry's premier production house for high-quality 3D animation and graphics. Ms Poon joined ILM 20 years ago, and her work for the company has included developing cutting-edge digital effects, for some of the most successful feature films of all time including Inception, Shrek2, Jumanji, The Green Mile, Star Wars - Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Men In Black and Jurassic Park.

In addition to films, Ms Poon has also worked for Electronics Arts (EA) as a Senior Art Director. At EA, she worked on one of the best-selling EA Sports games Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006 and 2007.

Ms Poon received a BSc Computer Science from the University of Essex in 1984. She subsequently took a PhD in theoretical computer science at the University of London and has co-authored two widely-used computer graphics programming textbooks, Programming with Standard ML and Programming with Miranda. Ms Poon founded her own visual effects company, Lancet Films, in 2007.

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