Durham University awarded honorary degrees to the vice- chancellor of one of the country’s leading universities and the executive director of one of the largest non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka.
At a ceremony at the University of Ruhuna on Friday February 16, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, conferred honorary doctorates in civil law (DCL) on Dr Vinya Ariyaratne, Executive Director of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, for his dedication to humanitarian causes and peace initiatives and Professor Ranjith Senaratne, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ruhuna, for his academic distinction, effective management and visionary development of an international strategy for his institution.
The university is also conferring the honorary degrees in recognition of the individuals’ roles in helping to make ‘Project Sri Lanka’, which brought together students and staff of Durham university with community and regional partners in the North East of England in activities to assist with the reconstruction and regeneration of tsunami-devastated communities in Southern Sri Lanka, an internationally recognised success as an all-inclusive humanitarian, academic and development project.
Durham University’s Professor Joy Palmer-Cooper, Director of ‘Project Sri Lanka’ explained why she nominated the two graduands: “Dr Ariyaratne is a man of international acclaim and distinction in the medical, development and peace fields.
He has worked with us since the establishment of ‘Project Sri Lanka’ and has been unstinting in his personal support for the project.
“Professor Ranjith Senaratne and the University of Ruhuna have been pivotal in setting up the academic exchanges between our two universities and visits of Durham students to Sri Lanka. He has also supported Durham in securing further funding to help develop exchange programmes which aim to stimulate academic partnership with real practical benefits for local communities in Sri Lanka.”