Leading Scots playwright honoured at Stirling Winter Graduation

Honorary graduate Alan Bissett
Honorary graduate Alan Bissett
25 November 2016

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More than 730 students celebrated their graduation alongside honorary graduates Emeritus Professor Andrew Whiten and Alan Bissett at the University of Stirling’s Winter Graduation.

The degrees were conferred by University Chancellor and BBC broadcaster James Naughtie at two ceremonies held in the Gannochy National Tennis Centre.

Emeritus Professor Andrew Whiten received the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to our understanding of the evolution of primates in the morning ceremony, alongside graduands from the Faculties of Health Sciences and Sport, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.

Professor Whiten has put Scotland at the forefront of the study of animal behaviour and established the Living Links to Human Evolution Primate Research Centre in Edinburgh Zoo. In 2013, he was made a Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, of which there are around 100 Fellows worldwide.

In the afternoon ceremony, Scottish novelist, playwright and performer Alan Bissett received the award of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Scottish literary culture.

Alan said: "I feel immensely proud to receive this Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stirling, a place where I spent many happy years as both an undergraduate and a postgraduate. I started at Stirling when I was just 17 way back in 1993, and finished my postgrad studies when I was 25, essentially my formative years.

“Not only was my mind opened to numerous new ways of thinking, but my first novel was published when I was still a student at Stirling. As such, I feel I have a great many things to thank the University of Stirling for, this Honorary Doctorate being not least among them.

“It's always a nostalgic pleasure for me to come back to the campus for any reason, but to receive this accolade, and have the chance to address the graduates on their own special day, made this a particularly humbling trip."

Already an alumnus of the University, Alan Bissett is the first and only member of his family to attend university. He graduated with a first class honours in English with Education and a Diploma in Education in 1998 before gaining a MLitt in English from Stirling in 2002 and celebrated with graduands from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Stirling Management School.

Bissett began his writing career as a student, with the semi-autobiographical novel Boyracers. Since then, he has emerged as a highly successful novelist and playwright.

Among the day’s graduands was the first cohort from the INTO joint venture international student graduate diploma programme and Stirling University football coach Shelley Kerr. The first female to coach a men’s senior football side in Britain, Shelley collected a Master’s degree in Sport Management.

Stirling’s Winter Graduation follows recent international ceremonies in Singapore, Oman and Vietnam and the University’s Highlands and Western Isles Graduation in Inverness.
Stirling graduates will benefit from positive job prospects. The University is ranked first in Scotland and third in the UK for employability, with 97% of graduates in employment or further study within six months.

Photos, social media and graduate stories from the winter graduation ceremonies are available at the Graduation Live website.

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