M*A*S*H actor Alan Alda gets honorary degree from Dundee Uni

US actor Alan Alda, famous for his roles in M*A*S*H and The West Wing, has received an honorary degree from Dundee University for his work promoting the communication of science.

Actor Alan Alda. Picture: Getty Images)

The 81-year-old was made a Doctor of Law at a graduation ceremony in the city’s Caird Hall.

The actor, who became a worldwide name in his role as Captain Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H, a tragi-com series which portrayed life during the Korean War, helped found the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

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Mr Alda last year supported Dundee University’s new £10m forensic science research centre.

On receiving his honour, he said: “I feel great, it’s wonderful. I don’t quite understand the doctorate of law, I haven’t broken many so maybe that’s it.”

The Alan Alda Center is an international partner of Dundee University’s Leverhulme Centre, which is co-led by Professor Dame Sue Black, who proposed the actor for the honour.

Mr Alda said greater understanding of science was “more important now than ever.”

He added: “I did a science programme on television where I interviewed hundreds of scientists for eleven years.

“The University of Dundee are planning to have a partnership with a really important area, which is science in the courtrooms and the justice system with regard to forensic science.

“It’s very important the public understand about science to ask important questions.

“We’re entitled to be heard with our questions and our objections but we need to have a language that is common.

“It doesn’t do much good for scientists to tell us something we don’t understand or for us to ask questions based on misunderstanding.”

Alda played the starring role in M*A*S*H as a surgeon for the US Army during the Korean War. He was also a writer and director. He was nominated for 21 Emmy Awards, and won five. He took part in writing 19 episodes of M*A*S*H, including the 1983 series finale Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, which was also the 32nd episode he directed.

It remains the single most-watched episode of any American broadcast network television series.[9] Alda is the only series regular to appear in all 251 episodes.

Other recipients of honorary degrees include Olympian Dame Katherine Grainger and Turner Prize-winning artist Susan Philipsz.