UEA’s 2018 honorary graduates named

Published by  News Archive

On 29th May 2018

A host of notable names from the worlds of politics, business, literature, media and technology will be awarded honorary degrees by the University of East Anglia (UEA) this Summer. 

They include Labour politician Charles Clarke, presenter for the BBC science show “Stargazing Live”, Mark Thompson and Sky News’ Chief Correspondent, Stuart Ramsey.

The 18 recipients will attend UEA graduation ceremonies on 16-20 July, when around 4,500 students join the university’s 135,000 existing alumni, speaking to them about their own careers, lives and successes.

Honorary degrees are awarded annually to honour individuals who have made outstanding accomplishments or contributions to the community. 

UEA Vice-Chancellor, Prof David Richardson, said: “We take great pride in honouring those who make valuable and notable contributions to society alongside our newest cohort of graduating students and it’s always a delight to hear the words of wisdom they can impart at our graduation ceremonies.”


Charles Clarke

British Labour Party politician Charles Clarke was the MP for Norwich South from 1997-2010 and Education Secretary from 2002-4. He was also a Visiting Professor for the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communications Studies. He conducted popular masterclasses for students, developing their networking and leadership skills, and was part of the public University lecture series.

“It's a tremendous honour which I hope reflects the ways in which I have tried to support UEA over the years.” he said.

His advice to this year’s graduates is: “Follow your interests and aspirations to the furthest extent possible.”

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law. 


Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson is best known for his role as a presenter of the BBC science show “Stargazing Live” and a regular on Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio Five Live. He is president of the Norwich Astronomical Society, patron of the Norwich Science Festival, and has lived in Norfolk all his life, remaining in the county because the dark night skies that are ideal for stargazing.

He said: “I am very proud and honoured to receive an honorary degree from the University of East Anglia. As someone who has lived in East Anglia all my life, it is so lovely that the local university feels it appropriate to award my work in science outreach and education.

His advice to graduating students is: “Look out for opportunities to fulfil your dream! When I was a child, I had a dream of becoming an astronaut and later, perhaps more realistically, to work in media and science. As I moved into my working life my career took many a turn but through every turn I looked out for opportunities and it is that which has led to fulfilling at least one of my dreams.”

Mark will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science.


Stuart Ramsay 

Stuart Ramsay is Sky News’ Chief Correspondent, reporting on major global events. He’s covered around 18 wars throughout his career, reporting from Chechnya, Africa, the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2013, he reported from Syria, covering the impact of the fighting on civilians and the Aleppo battle, meeting IS personnel and gaining exclusive footage and interviews with UK jihadists, at personal risk. He graduated from UEA in 1985, along with his now wife Toni.

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.


Lord Thomas Strathclyde

Lord Thomas Strathclyde was a member of David Cameron’s Cabinet as Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster from 2010-13, having been Leader of the Opposition in the Lords from 1998 - 2010. Since 1988, he has held numerous positions at Parliament, including Minister for Tourism, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in the Scottish Office and Government Chief Whip. He is now a backbench member of the Lords and has developed a commercial career on corporate Advisory Boards and in non-executive positions. He is a graduate of Modern Languages and European Studies from UEA and an active member of the UEA Difference Campaign Advisory Board.

He spoke of his time at university: “I went to UEA, studying French and Literature and studied at the Universite of Aix-en-Provence as part of my year abroad. UEA was a mixture of interesting academic study, good and lasting friendships made and a chance to grow up in a vibrant and challenging environment. I had life experiences that helped form what I am today and left many happy memories firmly planted in my mind.”

His advice to graduating students is: “Grasp whatever opportunities come your way. Do not fear technological change. Use your network of contacts, friends and support services from UEA. Keep a healthy work/life balance by doing some voluntary work as well. Whatever challenges you face, you will get through them.”

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.


Jacyn Heavens

Jacyn Heavens is the owner, founder and CEO of one of the UK’s fastest-growing technology businesses, Epos Now, which sells electronic point of sale systems and is headquartered in Norwich and Orlando, USA. In 2016, he was named Great British Retail Entrepreneur of the Year at NatWest's Great British Entrepreneur Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year in the BOC Brilliance in Business Awards and received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. Jacyn is UEA’s first Entrepreneur in Residence, giving advice and support to students, and employs around 30 University graduates.

He said: “This reward for me feels like recognition for all the sacrifices, late nights and brutal challenges I have been through over the years. The amount of learning and personal development I have been through has been an incredible.

“I was surprised at the award as I don't have a University education. However, this honour proves the UEA’s commitment to building a learning and development culture without any barriers.”

His advice for this year’s graduates is: “I imagine this can be quite a daunting time for you as a graduate. You have worked hard for a long time and now things are going to change. Change should be embraced as the next step of your journey. The great unknown can be scary but it can bring you everything you ever dreamed of and more.”

Jacyn will receive an Honorary Doctorate Science. 


Prof Stephen Westaby

Prof Stephen Westaby is a world-famous British heart surgeon who has performed more than 11,000 operations during his 35-year career and pioneered a number of experimental treatments involving the use of artificial hearts and circulatory support technology. His memoir of his career as a heart surgeon, “Fragile Lives: A Heart Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table”, was on the Sunday Times bestseller list.

He said: “I was surprised and deeply honoured to receive this prestigious award from the University of East Anglia. I have watched and admired the progress of the Medical School for many years.”     

Prof Westaby will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science. 


Penny Johnson CBE

Penny Johnson CBE has been Director of the Government Art Collection since 1997 and is responsible for more than 14,000 works of art from the 16th Century to the present day that are displayed in government buildings in the UK and across the world. During her time as Director, she has increased public access to the Collection by instituting public tours, increasing the Collection’s web presence and staging the first major public exhibition of the Collection at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and tour. Before joining the Government Art Collection, Penny ran the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne and worked at Stoke-on-Trent City Museum and Art Gallery.

She spoke of her time studying Art History at UEA: “I very much enjoyed my time there. I loved the architecture and university life. I was lucky to be in a strong faculty and, from the group of students, I have made some lifelong friendships.”

Her advice to this year’s graduates is: “Think about what brings you joy and energy and how you could help to make the world a better place. If you can combine these two principles you are likely to make an impact in whatever you decide to do.”

Penny will recognised with an Honorary doctorate of Civil Law.


Prof Shiyi Chen

Prof Shiyi Chen is the most highly-cited engineer in China and President of Southern University of Science and Technology, one of UEA’s partners in China. His research focuses on lattice gas methods in which he created important analysis approaches leading to engineering applications. He also made significant contributions to the high-performance computing and fundamental studies in the theory of turbulence. 

His advice to UEA students: “You are graduating into a world increasingly defined by complex global challenges. Remember to view these challenges as opportunities for growth, and to meet them head-on with a smile on your face.”

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science.


Dame Frances Ashcroft

Prof Dame Frances Ashcroft is a medical physiologist whose research on ion channel mutations has helped people with a rare inherited form of diabetes switch from insulin to tablet therapy. She is Prof of Physiology in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College Oxford. She holds BA, PhD and ScD degrees from Cambridge University and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1999. She has received many awards for her work including the Croonian Lecture of the Royal Society and the L’Oreal UNESCO Award for Women in Science European Laureate in 2012.

She said: “It is an enormous privilege to be awarded an honorary degree and I am deeply grateful to the University of East Anglia for the honour. My advice to graduates is to follow your passion.”

Dame Ashcroft will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science. 


Rowan Moore

Rowan Moore is a highly distinguished writer on architecture, as well as a curator and practitioner. In his articles and books he explores in particular the interaction of the built environment with human experience. He has long championed the work of Denys Lasdun, the original architect of the UEA campus.  

He said of his honorary degree: “I feel amazed, touched, gratified and a little bit older.”

His advice to UEA graduates is: “Here be monsters! Laugh in their ugly faces.”

He will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.


Anthony Douglas CBE

Since 2004, Anthony Douglas has been Chief Executive of Cafcass, the national agency charged with articulating the voice of the child in family courts throughout England. Cafcass employs the largest number of social workers of any UK organisation and is responsible for 140,000 children annually. He was an economist and a journalist prior to becoming a social worker and has written four books on UK social care and is now writing a fifth on resilience in global societies. He is a Visiting Fellow of the UEA and the University of Plymouth and is a member of the Family Justice Board and the Adoption Leadership Board. He was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to family justice and adoption.

When asked what advice he would give to graduates, he said: “I employ a number of graduates in the organisation I run and many go on to be promoted into significant specialist roles within a few years. My advice is to think of work as an opportunity to find yourself and express yourself and to put your values first in all that you do.”

Anthony will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.


Hilary Weaver

Hilary Weaver is Chief Risk Officer for Lloyd’s of London. She joined Lloyd’s in 2003 as Head of Internal Audit, where she lead on internal audit services for Lloyd’s globally and, after holding the post on an interim basis, was confirmed as Chief Risk Officer in 2016. Hilary read Swedish and Linguistics at UEA before studying to become a Chartered Accountant. Prior to joining Lloyd’s, she worked as a Senior Manager at KPMG and was based in London, Sydney and San Francisco.

“I studied Swedish and Linguistics at UEA, which I thoroughly enjoyed, as I got to study Swedish and Finnish, plus Danish and Norwegian in translation,” she said. “I spent my second year abroad in the Aland Islands and at Stockholm University. I was encouraged to go for a Finnish government scholarship to spend one month in Rauma, Finland, on a language course with 20 other people from around the world. It really did open my eyes to the world of opportunity out there.” 

Her advice to students is: “Be bold in your aims and take your opportunities. You have lots of time in life to get all kinds of experience.”

She will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.


Maxine Saunders

Maxine Saunders is Head of UK Transaction Services, a Partner in Financial Advisory at Deloitte and a Board member of Deloitte LLP. She has been a Partner at Deloitte since 1999 and has 30 years of experience with the firm, working with large, multi-national companies on a wide range of deals including public and private transactions and bid defence support. She graduated from UEA in 1987 with a degree in American Studies, spending a year at Brandeis University near Boston, USA.

“I have always felt proud of having achieved success in the world of business in spite of my Arts Degree background,” she said. “It shows that you can take a set of skills learned in one environment and apply them in a different context. It’s one version of ‘Do Different’!”

“I loved everything about my university experience from the iconic UEA campus buildings, to the excellent teaching, to the breadth of extra curricula activities,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoyed my course and the opportunity to combine two subjects in which I was equally interested.”

Her advice to students is: “My advice is to follow your dreams and believe in yourself. Be energetic and passionate about the things that are important to you. Leverage the inputs and advice of those around you.”

Maxine will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law. 


Asoke Kumar Mukerji

Asoke Kumar Mukerji is an Indian diplomat and writer, and was Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations from 2013-15. He served in India’s Ministry of External Affairs as Additional Secretary and then Special Secretary from 2010-13, responsible for India's foreign policy planning and review, participation in international organisations, border management and cyber issues. He headed the Government of India’s multi-agency counter terrorism working groups for international co-operation and co-chaired the India-EU Security Dialogue. Mukerji was India's Deputy High Commissioner to the UK from 2007-10. He is also a member of the IISS, London.

“I am delighted and honoured to be awarded an honorary degree by the UEA, which is among the world’s top 200 universities,” he said. “This will motivate me to become even more involved with the activities of the UEA in responding to global challenges, including those addressed by the United Nations.  

His advice to graduates is: “Today, we live in an inter-connected, and therefore inter-dependent, world. Technological innovation will radically change the world around us. As graduates of UEA, you will be better placed and equipped than many others to understand and respond to these challenges.” 

He will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law. 


Lord Deben

John Gummer, Lord Deben, is a British Conservative Party politician, formerly Member of Parliament for Suffolk Coastal and now a member of the House of Lords. He is Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change. He joined the Cabinet in 1989 as Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, moving to become Secretary of State for the Environment under John Major in 1993. As Environment Secretary he introduced the Environment Act 1995 and the Landfill Tax, which was the first such environmental tax in the UK. In September 2012, Lord Deben was confirmed as Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change and re-appointed in 2017.

Lord Deben spoke of the degree saying: “I am so pleased to be awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of East Anglia, which has given such high academic standards to our part of the country. As Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change and former Environment Secretary it is especially gratifying to be honoured by one of the world’s leading centres of work on environmental science.”

His advice to students is: “I have always had a personal motto, ‘Launch out into the deep’, and I cannot think of better advice for a young person graduating but to get out into the world with determination to change it for the better.”

Lord Deben will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science.


Christie Watson

Christie Watson was a registered nurse for 20 years and now teaches and writes and advocates for nurses full time. In 2007, she won the Malcolm Bradbury Bursary for a place on the renowned Creative Writing course at UEA, where she wrote her debut novel. “Tiny Sunbirds Far Away” won the Costa First Novel Award and her second novel, “Where Women Are Kings”, was also published to international critical acclaim. “The Language of Kindness”, her recently-published non-fiction book celebrating nursing, has been the subject of international bidding wars and is being developed into a television series. Her works have been translated to 18 languages.

“My experience at UEA was incredible,” she said. “I was quite different from the other students but the UEA family accepted me and valued my contribution immediately and my fellow students became lifelong friends.”

Her advice to students is: “I'd advise a short break after graduation this summer, sitting in parks if at all possible, eating ice-cream and reading books. There is a lifetime of work waiting for you and you deserve some down time! As for the future, be kind to yourselves and to others. Whatever job you end up doing, wherever you live, whoever you end up living with, kindness is the single most important thing that we can all offer the world.”

She will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.


Baroness Shephard

Baroness Shephard of Northwold was made a life peer in June 2005. She was elected to Parliament as MP for South West Norfolk in 1987, held ministerial posts at Social Security and HM Treasury and entered the Cabinet in 1992 as Secretary of State for Employment. She subsequently became Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Secretary of State for Education and, from 1995-7, Secretary of State for Education and Employment. In opposition, she was first Shadow Leader of the House, and then Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Environment and the Regions. She was Chairman of the Association of Conservative Peers in the House of Lords until 2012. She is an Honorary Fellow of St. Hilda’s College, Oxford and  Queen Mary College, University of London, and is currently Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Kings College London. She served as Deputy Chair of the Social Mobility Commission until December 2017. She is a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Norfolk and became a Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur in 2009. She is the author of four books, including the acclaimed “Shephard’s Watch” (2000) and “The Real Iron Lady” (2013). She is a former President of the Royal Norfolk Show and a trustee of Norwich Cathedral.

“I am delighted and honoured to be awarded an honorary degree from the UEA,” she said. “My advice to graduates is to aim high and enjoy your life.” 

Baroness Shephard will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.


Brian Boylan

Brian Boylan is Chairman of Wolff Olins and has been with the organisation for 45 years.

A firm believer that social and commercial sit side-by-side, hand in hand, Brian has been the driving force behind global brands like GE, PwC, Unilever and Enel as well not-for-profit organisations like Macmillan, Cancer, Tate, Red and London 2012.

Wolff Olins has supported Norwich Business School over the last decade and has been pivotal in helping to establish UEA’s MSc Brand Leadership degree programme.  Under Brian's chairmanship, Wolff Olins has also provided UEA with consulting advice to help define the University's branding and market positioning.  Brian has taken a personal interest in UEA, coaching students and helping them with finding internship placements.

Beyond Wolff Olins, Brian is actively engaged in contemporary culture - served on the boards of Tate Modern and Artangel and is currently an advisor to National Theatre and Sadler’s Wells Theatre. 

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