The University has honoured one of the country’s leading clerics – who has her roots firmly in the North East, and particularly Sunderland.
The Right Reverend Helen-Ann Hartley was born in Edinburgh in 1973, just weeks after Sunderland beat Leeds to win the FA Cup – and the link to Sunderland and Leeds continued. She is now Bishop of Ripon in the Diocese of Leeds, and when she was aged two Helen-Ann moved to Sunderland.
She studied at Benedict Biscop Church of England Primary School, and St Anthony’s Roman Catholic girls School, both in Sunderland – and, she says, it is the city that shaped her.
After a stint at Oxford and then Waikato in New Zealand, Helen-Ann was ordinated in 2005, and is currently Bishop of Ripon.
Bishop Harley said: “To come back here to Sunderland today genuinely feels like coming home, almost like coming full circle. It was a delight to be honoured in this way. When I was asked I couldn't stop smiling."
Bishop Hartley has been in post at Ripon since February last year.
She added: "It's a big job but I'm absolutely loving it. It's wonderful to be back in the North again."
The Right Reverend Helen-Ann Hartley was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Education for her work promoting diversity, and her academic success as a theologian.