Editor and director take top honours at York

Joe Walker and Frances Morris at the University of York
Joe Walker and Frances Morris at the University of York
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He is a film editor whose career took him from York to Hollywood, via the BBC. She is the first British woman to be appointed director at the Tate Modern.

Their paths crossed yesterday on the banks of the lake that surrounds the Central Hall at the University of York, as they joined four other influential figures to receive honorary degrees.

Joe Morris, now based in Los Angeles, had trained as a classical composer at the university before joining the BBC’s film editing department.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, he has twice been nominated for an Oscar – for the 2016 science fiction thriller Arrival, and the 2013 civil war drama, 12 Years a Slave, which starred Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch. He also has three Bafta nominations, most recently for Bladerunner 2049, with Ryan Gosling.

Frances Morris has been involved with the Tate Modern since its inception in 2000, first as head of displays and later in charge of the international art collection. She became the gallery’s director in 2016 and is credited with developing its overseas profile.

Others to be honoured at yesterday’s ceremony included the plant biologist Dame Caroline Dean, social geographer Danny Dorling, the financier Dame Helena Morrissey and Giovanni Rufini, an Italian researcher and lecturer on humanitarian issues who is director general of Amnesty Int­er­national in Italy. He is an associate fellow of the university’s post-war reconstruction unit.

Dame Caroline, who works at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, gained her BA and PhD in biology in York.