UJ honours iconic figures during the 2022 Summer Graduation series
Date: Oct 10, 2022 | Media Release, News
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is pleased to announce that it will, during the Summer Graduation series, honour six luminaries who will be conferred with Honorary Doctorates. Included in the group of six recipients are two Nobel Prize laureates – one in Literature (2021) and another in Chemistry (2013). They will join students who will, as of Wednesday, 12 October 2022, paint UJ’s Kingsway Campus with the colours of their academic regalia when they receive their degrees after fulfilling all the requirements of their qualifications.
UJ will confer Honorary Doctorates to the following six outstanding individuals:
- Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong
- Professor Khaled Ben Letaief
- Professor Michael Levitt
- Ms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Professor Robert Doyle Bullard
- Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah
During this Graduation series, 465 undergraduate qualifications will be awarded as well as 390 postgraduate qualifications, including 325 Master’s degrees and 65 Doctoral degrees. Not only are these qualifications a personal triumph for the students, but they are also a momentous achievement that will help contribute towards an improved livelihood for their families. Their success will further contribute towards the upliftment of their communities and society at large.
The University will confer Honorary Doctorates to six outstanding individuals who, through their excellent work and personal sacrifices, have made sterling contributions to humanity in the social, economic and scientific fields in our country, on the African continent, and globally. The first of the recipients of an Honorary Doctorate is Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Chinese-South African transplant surgeon, billionaire businessman, bio-scientist, and media proprietor. He is the inventor of the drug Abraxane, which became known for its efficacy against lung, breast, and pancreatic cancer. Dr Soon-Shiong will accept his Honorary Doctorate virtually on Wednesday, 12 October 2022.
Joining Dr Soon-Shiong on the same date will be Professor Khaled Ben Letaief. He is an internationally recognised leader in wireless communications and networks with research interest in big data analytic systems, mobile cloud and edge computing, tactile Internet, 5G systems and beyond. Prof Letaief will accept his Honorary Doctorate in person.
The third recipient of the Honorary Doctorate is Professor Michael Levitt, a Nobel Prize recipient in Chemistry (awarded in 2013). He is a South African-born biophysicist and a professor of structural biology at Stanford University. Prof Levitt was one of the first researchers to conduct molecular dynamics simulations of DNA and proteins and developed the first software for this purpose. His conferral will be held virtually on Thursday, 13 October 2022.
In addition, an Honorary Doctorate will be awarded to world-renowned Nigerian novelist, Ms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as well as Professor Robert Doyle Bullard, a leading figure in environmental justice scholarship and activism. Ms Adichie will virtually accept, while Prof Bullard will accept in person, on Friday, 14 October 2022.
Lastly, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah – the first black African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (awarded in 2021) since the world-acclaimed novelist Wole Soyinka in 1986 – will be conferred with an Honorary Doctorate at a special graduation ceremony on Wednesday, 09 November 2022. Through his invaluable contribution to literature, Prof Gurnah has demonstrated what it means to be a public intellectual, an academic and an engaged author exploring the fractured past with a deep desire to reimagine the future. His writings delve into topics and themes that derive from colonial experiences and trauma, the need to tell the histories of migration, refugee plight and deep historic and ongoing social injustices.
A public lecture will form part of the conferral of the honorary doctorate on Prof Gurnah, under the theme “Colonialism and the Refugee Experience’.
Says Professor Kinta Burger, Registrar, UJ, on the significance of Honorary Doctorates: “An Honorary Doctorate is conferred upon an individual as an acknowledgement of their significant contributions to a specific field or outstanding service to society, which relates to the University’s vision, mission, values and strategic goals and objectives. The University looks forward to welcoming the new cohort of honorary doctorates to the UJ community.”
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