Honorands 2018

The University of St Andrews is delighted to honor five distinguished individuals in June 2018. 


Tuesday 26 June – morning

Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown graduated in English from the University of Aberdeen in 1980. After working as assistant administrator of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, she became Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival in 1982, a post she held for ten years. From the Book Festival, she presented book programmes for Scottish television, and in 1995 co-ordinated the Readiscovery campaign, Scotland’s year of reading which included a book bus which took writers to schools all over the country. In 1996 she became literature director for the Scottish Arts Council. In 2002 she founded Jenny Brown Associates, now one of the leading agencies in the UK, representing 80 writers and specialising in fostering new writing talent in Scotland. In 2004 she was one of the four founders of Edinburgh’s designation as first UNESCO City of Literature. She has been chair of Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival since its inception in 2012 and is a board member of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

To be awarded DLitt (Doctor of Letters).


Wednesday 27 June – morning

Professor Satoshi Ōmura PhD

Professor Satoshi Ōmura is widely recognised as a global expert in the field of bioorganic chemistry, particularly for the discovery, development, biosynthesis and manipulation of useful chemicals derived from naturally occurring microorganisms. In 1965 he began his career-long association with the Kitasato Institute, initially as a researcher, over the years occupying various posts, culminating in his appointment in 1990 as president. He was President Emeritus of the Kitasato Institute from 2008 to 2012. He is currently a Distinguished Emeritus Professor and Special Coordinator of the Research Project for Drug Discovery from Natural Products in the Kitasato Institute for Life Sciences, Kitasato University. He was also appointed as inaugural Max Tishler Professor of Chemistry at Wesleyan University (USA) in 2005, a post he still holds in an Emeritus position.

To be awarded DSc (Doctor of Science).


Wednesday 27 June – afternoon

Dr Rita Gardner CBE

Dr Rita Gardner CBE was director of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), the world’s foremost geographical society, from 1996 until early 2018. As director she oversaw the introduction of the professional ‘Chartered Geographer’ accreditation for geographers in the workplace in 2004. Prior to joining the Royal Geographical Society, she held academic posts at Kings College London (1979-1994) and at Queen Mary College, London (1994-1996), where she was head of Environmental Science. She has led major international research programmes studying environmental change, most notably as director of the DFID-funded Soil Erosion and Conservation Project in Nepal. She was educated at University College London (BSc Geography, First Class Honours, 1976) and the University of Oxford (DPhil 1981). 

From 2006-2010, Dr Gardner served as an advisor for Geography to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and remains actively engaged with the Department for Education on geography curriculum matters. She has served on numerous national and international committees, including non-executive director of the British Antarctic Survey, chair of the Academy of Social Sciences Working Group on Open Access Publishing, senior advisor to the British Council and secretary general of the European Association of Geographical Societies. She is the holder of the Busk Medal in recognition of her academic work and in 2003 was awarded a CBE for ‘Services to Geography’.

To be awarded DSc (Doctor of Science).


Thursday 28 June – afternoon

Catherine Stihler MEP

Catherine was born and brought up in North Lanarkshire, attending Coltness High School, Wishaw. In 1991, her relationship with St Andrews began leading to her gaining an MA(Hons) in Geography and International Relations (1996) and an M.Litt in International Security Studies (1998). She was elected by her fellow students to serve as the third female President of the Students’ Association 1994-1995.

Catherine has represented Scotland in the European Parliament since 1999. In this time she has held many and varied roles from Deputy Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) to the Editor of the Parliament Magazine. Over the years, Catherine has been recognised as an ambassador for accessibility, consumer and citizen rights. Currently Vice Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, she works on digital policy, prioritising the digital single market, digital skills, better accessibility of digital products for the disabled as well as citizen online data protection and privacy. This has seen her write a number of influential reports and opinions currently working on a fit for purpose copyright reform and a European AI strategy. As leader of the All Party Library Group, she has promoted and advocated for the importance of libraries and how libraries can remain relevant in the new digital age. In 2014, Catherine gained an MBA with merit. Her personal challenge for 2018 is to understand machine learning. Catherine opposes BREXIT, is co-chair of Scottish Labour for the Single Market and supports the ‘people’s vote movement’. Out of her direct role as an MEP, Catherine was elected unopposed to serve as the 52nd Rector of the University of St Andrews (2014-2017).

Catherine lives in Dunfermline with her husband David and their sons, Alex (12) and Andrew(6).

To be awarded DLitt (Doctor of Letters).

Catherine Stihler

Friday 29 June – morning

Professor Sir John Savill BA MBChB PhD FRCP FRCPE FRCSEd (Hon) FRCPCH (Hon) FASN FRSE F.MedSci FRS

John Savill is a clinician-scientist distinguished for his insights into the molecular processes of inflammation. He graduated in physiological sciences from Oxford in 1978 and in Medicine from Sheffield in 1981, receiving his PhD (London) in 1989. He spent seven years at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, as a Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Training Fellow and Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow. 

In 1993, he was appointed Chair of Medicine at Nottingham then Professor of Medicine in Edinburgh, where he was the first director of the University of Edinburgh/Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research. He served as the first Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at Edinburgh and appointed to the Regius Chair of Medical Science in 2017. He was the Chief Scientist for the Scottish Government Health Directorates from June 2008 to September 2010. Following this, he was appointed as Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the Medical Research Council until March 2018.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the American Society of Nephrology, The Royal Society of Edinburgh and The Royal Society. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He was a member of the Medical Research Council and was knighted in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List for services to clinical science.

To be awarded MD (Doctor of Medicine).