Over 2,000 students celebrated their graduation at the Colchester Campus on 16, 17 and 18 July.
The students were joined by five honorary graduates: Philip Crummy, Director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust; Dee Evans, Chief Executive of Colchester's Mercury Theatre; Jack Petchey, businessman and philanthropist; Tim Melville-Ross, former chair of the University's Council and Chair of HEFCE; and Essex graduate Professor Derrick Swartz, Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
On receiving his award, and returning to the University, Professor Swartz said in his address to the graduation congregation: 'It is such a privilege to be honoured by one’s alma mater, a wonderful gesture made all the more delightful in that it has been totally unexpected. My coming into contact with this fine University, some twenty years ago, in 1989, as a post-graduate student in sociology, was in fact – like so many other good experiences in life – as a result of a chance encounter.
'Driven from my own country into exile that year, I was privileged to enrol at Essex after a meeting with the late Professor Harold Wolpe, who was teaching sociology at Essex at the time. Harold insisted, in his own inimical way, that there was no point in looking at any other options to ‘seriously’ study sociology (he rattled off a few names of institutions which I would not dare mention), as Essex, in his words, was ‘by far the leading university’ in this field!
'At Essex, many South African émigrés found an intellectual space which celebrated many of those qualities which my generation had only dreamt of - enlightened, critically-engaging, cosmopolitan, multi cultural and internationalist in both its epistemological and organizational culture. Here, we had the opportunity to think afresh about many long-held notions about truth, power, freedom, democracy; about the difficulties of liberation movements in making the transition to parliamentary democracy; about the limits of state power and problems of economic development; and, about the inadequacies of dominant development paradigms in the face of great ecological strains.'
Also amongst those celebrating were three councillors from Colchester Borough and Tendring District Councils who all picked up degrees from the University.
John Manning, councillor for Wivenhoe Cross, and Gary Scott, councillor for Alresford, were awarded BA degrees in History while Mark Cory, councillor for Wivenhoe Cross received a BA in Modern History and Politics. Gary Scott has been a district councillor for eight years while Mark Cory was elected to Colchester Borough Council in May 2007 and John Manning was elected in May 2008.
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