MORE than 1,200 people will gather at York Minster next week for the official launch of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the city’s university.

The gathering at the Minster, where the university’s inauguration was held in October 1963, will launch a year-long calendar of anniversary events.

It coincides with two free exhibitions – at the King’s Manor and at the Ron Cooke Hub on Heslington East campus – that focus on the personalities and milestones in the university’s first half-century and its close links with the city.

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The Minster audience, which will include local residents, former students and staff, will see the Chancellor, Greg Dyke, confer honorary doctorates on five people who have made “outstanding” contributions to Yorkshire over the last 50 years.

They include artist David Hockney; the Minster’s own master mason John David; the chief officer of York Museums Trust Janet Barnes; chairman of York Science Park Robert Brech and the former deputy chief nurse of Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare, Diane Swiers.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor said: “We are starting our 50th anniversary celebrations by acknowledging our relationship with the people of York, many of whom will be attending this exciting public event in the Minster.

“The university’s success is attributable to the vision of our founding staff, the spirit of the pioneering students who chose to come to York in the early 1960s, and to the efforts of all those who have worked here and friends who have supported us over the last half century.”