In the news: Desmond Tutu

October 31, 2003

Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu is about to take up his first academic appointment.

The former general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, who was awarded the peace prize in 1984 for his work in ending apartheid, has been appointed visiting professor in post-conflict studies at King's College London.

Bishop Tutu, who is an alumnus of King's, gained his masters in theology in 1966. His is one of King's highest-profile graduates. Indeed, the student bar, Tutu's, was named in his honour - or perhaps in reference to the use of his name as slang for a lower-second degree.

Bishop Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, and was educated at Johannesburg Bantu High School. He trained as a teacher at the University of South Africa and graduated in 1954.

After three years as a high-school teacher, he started studying theology and was ordained in 1960. He came to England with his wife Leah in 1962 and spent four years engaged in further theological study.

He said of his time at King's: "My experience was one of great encouragement and support in my academic studies and an acceptance and warmth from my fellow students. Study opened up a whole new world to me."

From 1967 to 1972, he taught theology in South Africa before returning to England for three years as the assistant director of a theological institute in London. In 1975, he was the first black dean of St Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg and, a year later, he became Bishop of Lesotho. He was made a fellow of King's in 1978.

While at King's, Bishop Tutu will teach students, give a public lecture and preach at the newly reinstated beginning-of-term service. He will lecture on the Associateship of King's College course - a Monday lunchtime lecture series on ethics, philosophy and theology that students can take to gain associateship of the college alongside their degrees.

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