Honorary doctorates for Patrick Kielty and former Irish president Mary Robinson

Comedian and TV host Patrick Kielty and former Irish president Mary Robinson are set to receive honorary doctorates from Ulster University.

Artist Oliver Jeffers and Samantha Barry from US Glamour are also among this year’s cohort being honoured to inspire the university’s graduates.

It comes during a year of celebrations marking 175 years of the Belfast School of Art at the university.

Mr Jeffers said he is proud to return to Belfast School of Art this summer for the honour.

He described the Belfast School of Art, where he once studied design for visual communication, as a facility that is “intrinsic to the city’s artistic and cultural heritage”.

“Now dividing my time between Belfast and New York, this award strengthens my connection with the place where I grew up and I am grateful to Ulster University for the honour,” he said.

“However, I do hope I’m never on a flight when they ask if there’s a doctor on board!”.

Ms Barry, originally from Co Cork and now based in New York where she is Glamour’s global editorial director for the Americas and transformed the title’s annual women of the year awards to champion diversity, is being celebrated for her achievements in journalism.

“I am delighted to have been recognised by Ulster University for my work and so excited to be visiting this summer to join the occasion with thousands of graduates as they celebrate after years of hard work and prepare to embark on their careers,” she said.

Eamonn Mallie is being recognised for his significant contribution to journalism and broadcasting, Betty Carlisle is to be recognised for her work promoting shared education and empowering women from disadvantaged and deprived areas, and Sister Nuala Kelly for her outstanding contribution to the local community after transforming St Louisa’s College in west Belfast.

Charlie Bird death
Mary Robinson is being given an honorary doctorate by Ulster University (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ulster University vice-chancellor Professor Paul Bartholomew said they are aiming to celebrate inspirational local people making a global impact.

“Graduation is a special time of year as we celebrate our outstanding graduates as they come together with friends and family to mark their wonderful achievements,” he said.

“We are committed to nurturing the next generation of leaders who will go on to make a genuine difference in their communities and respective professions in the years that follow their time at Ulster University.

“With that future in mind, it is a joy to celebrate the work of those inspirational and acclaimed local faces already making a global impact, and we are thrilled to bestow these honorary doctorates.

“These individuals are leaders in their fields and demonstrate great talent, creativity and integrity.

“We hope they will be an inspiration to the whole Ulster University community.”

The honorary doctorates will be conferred during summer graduations which take place from July 1 to 9 across Belfast, Coleraine and Londonderry.