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Actor Sir Ian McKellen, CBE, is to deliver next year's Chancellor's Lecture at the University of Ulster which will be held in the Magee campus for the first time.

The renowned stage and screen actor will also receive the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from the University for his services to acting at the event on February 3,which coincides with Derry~Londonderry's year as City of Culture.

The award will be conferred at a VIP ceremony on the campus by the University's Chancellor, Dr James Nesbitt who co-stars with Sir Ian in Peter Jackson's forthcoming movie, 'The Hobbit'.

Sir Ian will be the sixth distinguished speaker to deliver the annual Chancellor’s Lecture, following in the footsteps of the Irish Republic's Taoiseach Enda Kenny who delivered the lecture on the Belfast campus in April 2012.

His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction and he has many television, film and stage appearances to his credit.

He is possibly best known outside the theatre for roles such as Gandalf in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy and 'The Hobbit', for his role in X-Men, for his acclaimed performance as Richard III for the National Theatre and on film and for a surprise appearance as a con artist in ITV’s soap opera ‘Coronation Street’.

The Magee campus is home to the University's School of Creative Arts, offering degree programmes in drama, dance, music, design and creative technologies.

University of Ulster Pro Vice Chancellor and Magee Provost, Professor Deirdre Heenan said the campus was honoured to host next year's Chancellor's Lecture.

"TheUniversity is delighted to recognise an actor of Sir Ian's standing with an honorary doctorate and that he has also agreed to deliver next year's Chancellor's Lecture," she said.

"It is also wonderful for Derry~Londonderry as the 2013 City of Culture that this event is also coming for the first time to Magee and it will no doubt be a highlight for the city and for the University."

The Chancellor’s Lectureis one of the major events in the University calendar.

Previous Chancellor’s Lectures have been delivered by:

Baroness Helena Kennedy, distinguished jurist

Jon Snow, respected journalist and broadcaster

Mary McAleese, the then Irish President

Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland

Enda Kenny, Taoiseach