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World renowned contemporary visual artist Dr Colin Davidson has been officially installed as the University’s sixth Chancellor at a ceremony today in St Anne’s Cathedral. The contributions of ten distinguished educators, journalists, playwrights, leaders, and humanitarians both locally and globally will also be recognised during the ceremony with the bestowing of honorary degrees.

Dr Colin Davidson, a graduate of Ulster University was appointed to the position in June 2021. The role of Chancellor combines ceremonial and ambassadorial duties, including the conferring of degrees at graduation ceremonies.

Colin graduated in 1991 from Ulster University with a first-class honours degree and has since become one of the world’s pre-eminent contemporary artists.  He has structured his practice in themes, and since 2010 his focus has been on painting grand scale portraits, which have won widespread recognition and many international awards. As well as numerous commissions, Colin’s portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, Ed Sheeran, Liam Neeson, President Bill Clinton, Her Majesty the Queen, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Christy Moore, John Hume, Dame Mary Peters, Gary Lightbody, Edna O'Brien, Glen Hansard, Mark Knopfler and Seamus Heaney.

Welcoming the new Chancellor, Ulster University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Bartholomew said:

It is an honour to introduce Ulster University’s new Chancellor, Dr Colin Davison at the installation ceremony today. As an Ulster University graduate and now a critically acclaimed artist based locally and showcasing his work globally, Colin is a beacon of inspiration for our students.

The new Chancellor embodies all of the values that we hold dear at Ulster University, his creativity and proud sense of place coupled with his experience and wisdom will support students, staff and fellow alumni in the months and years ahead.

I am pleased to now be in a position to also recognise other outstanding role models and bestow honorary doctorates to individuals who have demonstrated leadership, resilience, integrity, progressive thinking, determination, talent and creativity. They are a source of inspiration to us all.”

Chancellor, Dr Colin Davidson said:

“Although it’s been over three decades since I graduated from Ulster University, I still carry with me many of the lessons that I learned there and I’m delighted an honoured to take up my role as Chancellor. Ulster University has always had a focus on the future, what it will look like and how best to prepare our young people for the future by harnessing their individual talents. That focus on the future and individuality is what I’m most looking forward to harnessing in my role as Chancellor.”

The full list of honorary degrees to be awarded is as follows:

  • Professor Rafael Bengoa, DSc for outstanding contribution to international medicine and encouraging an inclusive culture within working environments
  • David Blevins, DLitt for outstanding contribution to journalism, education & charitable projects in Northern Ireland
  • Colin Davidson, DFA for outstanding commitment to remembrance and healing and excellence in the field of art
  • Patrick Doherty, DSc for outstanding commitment to the economic and cultural development of the whole of Ireland
  • Wilma Erskine OBE, DSc for outstanding commitment to the economic and cultural development of the whole of Ireland
  • Rt Rev Ken Good, DLitt for leadership in the Church of Ireland and encouraging church engagement with the Northern Ireland society
  • Dr Alastair Hamilton, CBE, DUniv for outstanding leadership of Invest Northern Ireland during a period of successful economic growth in Northern Ireland
  • Brendan Kerr, DSc for his support of apprenticeships and training and an outstanding role model as an entrepreneur
  • Lisa McGee, DFA for outstanding services to stage and screen as executive producer and writer
  • Máire Thompson, DUniv for outstanding commitment as an inspirational principal currently of Hazelwood Integrated College and Malone College previously

The event will be the first in person honorary graduation ceremony since 2019 and a series of celebratory graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020 and 2021 will follow across all campuses beginning w/c Monday 4th April.