School Celebrates Largest Ever Graduation
28 July 2010
The School of Oriental and African Studies celebrated the largest graduation in its history on 21-23 July.
A total of 852 undergraduate and graduates students were awarded degrees, cheered on by 1,441 friends and family members, over the course of the three days.
The ceremonies were streamed live on the SOAS website, where they were watched by alumni and friends in 71 countries.
SOAS also honoured the achievements of five leading figures in international diplomacy and the arts over the three days.
The Nigerian novelist Ben Okri OBE was awarded an honorary doctorate at a graduation ceremony for undergraduates, held on Wednesday, 21 July.
"The fame of SOAS has spread all over the world," he said upon receiving the award." There isn't one part of the world that hasn't heard of SOAS, perhaps because all of the world is here."
SOAS alumna HRH Princess Wijdan bint Fawaz Al-Hashemi, the Jordanian ambassador to Italy, was awarded an honorary fellowship on the same afternoon.
Jonathan Taylor CBE, chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation and a former chairman of the SOAS Governing Body, receive an honorary fellowship on Thursday, 22 July, along with Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, former Indian high commissioner to the United Kingdom.
There was a great deal of public interest in the appearance of Bollywood director and producer Yash Chopra, who was awarded an honorary doctorate on Friday, 23 July.
"I am humbled by this honour and would like to thank SOAS for this recognition," said Chopra, 77, on receiving his honorary degree. "My filmmaking has always been from the heart and I would like to pass on this same message to students all over the world."
That evening, Chopra participated in a question-and-answer session at the School's Brunei Lecture Theatre. The event was chaired by Professor Rachel Dwyer, Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema at SOAS and a biographer of Chopra.
The audience included SOAS students of Indian film, VIPs, media and Bollywood fans. SOAS was one of the first higher education institutions to offer a degree course on popular Hindi cinema.
It soon became clear just how strong an impression Chopra's work has made on Indian popular culture over a career that spans more than five decades.
At one point, someone from the audience asked Chopra about the song Rang Barse, from Chopra's classic 1981 romance, Silsila. When Chopra had trouble recalling the song, a celebration of the Indian festival of Holi, the audience spontaneously broke into a group rendition. They remembered every word.
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