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Rutherford's great great grandson graduating

Ernest Rutherford's great great grandson graduating this week

One of those graduating from the University of Canterbury this week will be the great great grandson of Ernest Rutherford, "father of the atom" and UC's most distinguished graduate.

Felix Loten will join fellow graduands from the Faculty of Engineering and Forestry in walking across the stage at the Christchurch Town Hall on Friday afternoon. Graduands from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences will be capped at the same ceremony. Felix will be available for media interviews during a visit to Rutherford's Den at the Arts Centre of Christchurch at 10am on Friday.

There will be a total of four capping ceremonies over two days, Wednesday 16 April and Friday 18 April. The first ceremony at 10am on Wednesday morning will recognise the achievements of students from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; the Faculty of Education; and UC Opportunity. At 2pm that afternoon it will be the turn of graduands from the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Commerce, and UC Opportunity to cross the stage.

On Friday morning students from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Faculty of Creative Arts will graduate.

In all 1516 students will receive their degrees, diplomas and certificates in person. A further 286 will graduate in absentia.

Graduands will process through central Christchurch prior to each graduation ceremony. The University mace will be carried by Dr Andy Pratt (Chemistry), Esquire Bedel for the Wednesday processions, and Associate Professor Bill Davison (Biological Sciences), Esquire Bedel for the Friday processions.

The processions will leave from the Arts Centre at 9.25am and 1.25pm on Wednesday and Friday, weather permitting.

A highlight of graduation week will be the conferment of an honorary Doctor of Letters degree on Jonathan Mane-Wheoki.

Mr Mane-Wheoki, who is currently the Director of Art and Collection Services at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, was educated in Auckland and at the University of Canterbury, and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

He is a graduate in fine arts (with honours in painting), English language and literature, and art history. He is also an Associate of Trinity College of Music, London.

Mr Mane-Wheoki taught art history at UC from 1976 to 2003 and served four terms as a member of the Board of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies. He also served as Dean of Music and Fine Arts and on various senior management committees at the University.

Mr Mane-Wheoki has served on numerous national and international bodies including Te Waka Toi (the Mäori Arts Board) and the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand; the International Council of the Centre Culturel Jean-Marie Tjibaou in Nouméa; and the Marsden Fund Council.

He is currently a governor of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand, Deputy Chair of the Council for the Humanities, and a member of the Council of the Royal Society.

Mr Mane-Wheoki will receive his honorary Doctor of Letters degree during the ceremony on Friday morning. He will also deliver the graduation address. Other guest speakers at this week's ceremonies will be former New Zealand ambassador to Iran, Turkey and the United States Dr John Wood (Wednesday morning); Christchurch-based High Court judge Justice John Fogarty (Wednesday afternoon); and the Chief Executive Officer of Contact Energy David Baldwin (Friday afternoon). Another highlight of the week will be the presentation of the University of Canterbury Teaching Medal to Associate Professor Tim Bell (Computer Science and Software Engineering). The medal is awarded in recognition of an outstanding and sustained contribution to teaching at the University.

In his 20 years as an academic staff member, Professor Bell has inspired students with his enthusiasm, technical knowledge and innovative teaching methods. One PhD student who endorsed his nomination for the Teaching Medal described his ability to hold the attention of his classes as "uncanny".

Professor Bell has pioneered numerous innovations to enhance students' learning experiences. An example is the introduction of regular podcasts which expand on lecture content.

In 2006, Google Inc. contributed funding for the development of Professor Bell's Computer Science Unplugged programme which uses fun activities to demonstrate computer science to school children. A teacher's manual for the programme has been translated into Korean, Japanese and Chinese. About 10 other translations are currently being developed.

Professor Bell will receive his medal during the Friday afternoon ceremony.


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