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Head of academic rescue charity honoured by Abertay University

27 November 2014

Stephen Wordsworth, a former senior diplomat who is now Executive Director of CARA, will receive an honorary degree from Abertay University this Friday (28 November).

Stephen will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Liberal Arts, in recognition of his distinguished career.

CARA (the Council for At-Risk Academics) was founded in 1933 by William Beveridge and other leading UK academics, to rescue their colleagues who were being expelled from Nazi Germany and to help them to make a new start.

Over 80 years later, CARA is still supporting university-level teachers and researchers from all around the world who have been forced to flee to the UK or to other countries, whether permanently or for temporary sanctuary.

CARA has also recently developed programmes to support academics in the Middle East and Zimbabwe seeking to continue their work there, despite the risks. CARA is supported by a growing network of universities across the UK – currently 104, including Abertay University – who work with CARA in various ways to support academic freedom.

Stephen Wordsworth said ahead of the ceremony: “The important work of CARA would be impossible without the backing that we enjoy from so many universities across the UK, including Abertay.

“It was the decision of Britain’s leading academics to come together in 1933 to support desperate colleagues that launched what has become CARA.

“Since then, a true partnership has grown up between us, based on a shared belief in the importance of education, on shared values, and on a shared determination to do all that we can to help academic colleagues who are at risk, anywhere in the world.

“That partnership is enormously important to us. I am committed to seeing it grow still further and it is in that spirit that I am delighted to accept this award.”

Professor Steve Olivier, Abertay University Vice-Principal (Academic), said: “We are delighted that Stephen is accepting our Honorary Doctorate of Liberal Arts. The breadth of his diplomatic experience and knowledge of the world, combined with his deep commitment to social justice and academic freedom, have made him a uniquely effective Executive Director of CARA.

“We are proud to be members of the CARA network, and honoured to be able to acknowledge both Stephen’s and his organisation’s work with this award.”

After graduating from Cambridge in 1977 with a degree in German and Russian, Stephen joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), working on Britain’s relations with the Soviet Union. His first overseas posting was in Moscow, from 1979-1981, during the Cold War.

His subsequent overseas postings, interspersed with tours of duty in the UK, were Lagos, Bonn, NATO, Moscow again, as Deputy Head of Mission from 2003-2005, and finally Belgrade, where he served as Ambassador from 2006-2010.

Highlights along the way included two years (1988-1990) as FCO Head of Section responsible for Berlin under its old ‘Four-Power’ status and for relations with the German Democratic Republic, through the period when the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was peacefully reunified; and his NATO tour (1994-1998), when he served at the military headquarters in Mons as a Political Adviser to the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and the military staff through the first years of the NATO-led Peace Implementation Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After leaving the FCO in 2010, he joined the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) as Executive Director.

Stephen has been honoured by the Queen with the awards of Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO, 1992) and Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG, 2011), and also holds the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.


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