Graduation Ceremonies

Honorary graduates

Is there anyone you feel should get an honorary degree at a future ceremony? You can nominate them for one.

Our honorary graduates come from all walks of life and have made significant contributions in their field.

Mr Anthony Best

Mr Anthony BestMr Anthony Best is Managing Director of Anthony Best Dynamics (ABD) which is based in Bradford-on-Avon.

Anthony got a taste for mechanics during his national service in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers where he obtained a commission and become responsible for an armoured vehicle workshop. He then attended Jesus College, Cambridge and graduated in Mechanical Sciences Tripos in 1960. He founded ABD in 1982 which specialises in noise, vibration, and suspension engineering services to the automotive industry.

ABD has been involved in many prestigious projects, including the design of the McLaren F1, low bandwidth active suspension for Jaguar and Ford and the development of an innovative vibration isolator for pneumatic road breakers.

In 1993 Anthony was awarded the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Gresham Cooke prize for a paper on refined low frequency active suspension. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the IMechE.

Anthony received an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering.


Professor David Spiegelhalter OBE

Professor David Spiegelhalter OBEProfessor David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, and Professor of Biostatistics, at the University of Cambridge.

His background is in medical statistics and he leads a small team called Understanding Uncertainty that is attempting to improve the way in which the quantitative aspects of risk and uncertainty are discussed in society. He led the statistical team in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry into the deaths of babies undergoing heart surgery and had a major impact on the way the health services was regulated and monitored.

In his quest to make risk more understandable he fronted the 2012 BBC4 programme ‘Tails you win: the science of chance’ and took part in the 2011 Winter Wipeout on BBC1 in the guise of 'Professor Risk'. He also gives many presentations to shools and others, advices organisations and government agencies on risk communication and is a regular commentator on current risk issues.

David received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Sir Peter Ricketts GCMG

Sir Peter Rickets GCMGSir Peter Ricketts GCMG is a senior British diplomat and is currently serving as British Ambassador to France. Previously he was National Security Advisor and he took up his new role in Paris in January 2012.

He began his career in the diplomatic service in 1974 when he joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He served as Assistant Private Secretary to the former Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe and has subsequently been based all over the world, from Brussels to Singapore, Washington DC and Paris.

Sir Peter read English Literature at Pembroke College in Oxford. He was knighted as Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George and was further promoted within the same order as a Knight Grand Cross in the 2011 New Year Honours.

Sir Peter received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.


Ron Dennis CBE

Sir Ron Dennis CBERon Dennis is Executive Chairman of McLaren Automotive and McLaren Group. He was also Team Principal of McLaren’s Formula One team for nearly 30 years and was instrumental in transforming the outfit from an also-ran team into a regular world championship contender.

Ron started work in racing in 1966, joining Cooper Cars, before he started his own F2 team in 1971. Under his leadership, McLaren was to win the Constructors Cup more than five times and secure no fewer than nine driving championships.

He is also passionate about encouraging young people to study science and engineering. In 2010 he addressed the Houses on Parliament in 2010 where he spoke about the need for science, technology, engineering and maths to sit at the heart of education to help open more employment opportunities.

Ron received an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering.


Mr Malcolm Arnold OBE

Mr Malcolm Arnold OBEMalcolm Arnold is one of the most successful athletics coaches in the UK. He is currently Head Coach for the UK Athletics Regional Performance Centre, based at the University. In a career that spans 40 years, the athletes he has coached have won more than 60 major championship medals at European, Commonwealth, World and Olympic competitions.

He started his coaching career in Uganda before becoming UK National Coach for Wales until 1994. He was also head coach of the GB Athletics Team for the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and took on his current role, based at the Sports Training Village, in 1998.

He coached his first Olympic winner John-Akii Bua from Uganda at the 1972 Olympics. His second winner – Mark McKoy from Canada – won Olympic gold in 1992 while his third winner was Bathonian Jason Gardener in 2004. He also coached Colin Jackson and more recently worked with Dai Greene. In total, across his career he has been involved in 12 Olympic Games – from Mexico 1968 to London 2012.

Malcolm received an honorary degree of Doctor of Education.


Mr Philip Pullman CBE, FRSL

Mr Philip Pulman CBE, FRSLPhilip Pullman is one of the most critically acclaimed and successful British authors of the past decade. His most famous work is the His Dark Materials trilogy, which won the 1995 Carnegie Medal in Literature. The first in the trilogy The Northern Lights has been adapted for screen under the title The Golden Compass.

He read English at Exeter College, Oxford, before going into teaching, where he taught at various Oxford Middle Schools before moving to Westminster College in 1986 to teach B.Ed students.

Over his writing career, he has written more than 20 books, which also includes the Sally Lockhart quartet, the New Cut Gang series and his recent book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. He has also won numerous prizes for his fiction. Northern Lights won the Carnegie Medal in 1996, and 10 years later garnered the Carnegie of Carnegies, chosen by readers from all the books awarded this medal in its 70 years. In 2001 The Amber Spyglass became the first children’s book to win the overall Whitbread Award (now known as the Costa Award).

Philip received an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts.


Professor Michael Otlet

Professor Michael OtletProfessor Michael Otlet works as Regional Director at Atkins Ltd in Oxford. His interest in architecture and design was first sparked when he joined Anthony Hunt Associates where he worked first hand with architects such as Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw and Chris Wilkinson.

He joined Atkins in 1994 where he has worked on a number of high-profile construction jobs, including the first retractable roof stadium in the UK on the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the Newport City footbridge, an ultra-thin bridge deck which is suspended from masts over the River Usk.

In recent years he has written papers and articles and given presentations on the work of his team at Atkins on the design, fabrication and construction of bespoke cladding and glazing systems, bridges, architectural structures and stadia.

Michael received an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering.


Sir Stephen Dalton, GCB, ADC

Sir Stephen Dalton, GCB, ADCAir Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton joined the RAF in 1976 after graduating with an honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Bath.

During the height of the Cold War he flew the Jaguar on three tours, both in Germany and the UK, in tactical reconnaissance and ground attack roles. As commanding officer of XIII Squadron, he also deployed on Operation Jural, the UK contribution to Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the No-Fly Zone over Southern Iraq.

He then moved on to high command, serving as Head of Air Operations at the Ministry of Defence during the preparations for and conduct of Operation Telic in Iraq. Most recently he was appointed Chief of the Air Staff, the professional head of the Royal Air Force, in which role he advised the British Government on the deployment of air power during the Libyan conflict.

Sir Stephen received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Professor Sarah Springman CBE, FREng

Professor Sarah Springman CBE, FREngProfessor Sarah Springman is both an accomplished engineer and a leading athlete. She is Professor in Geotechnical Engineering at ETH Zurich, engaged in the modelling and solving geotechnical problems relating to soil-structure-interaction and natural hazards.

Sarah studied soil mechanics at Cambridge University before transferring to work in industry as an engineer on geotechnical projects in England, Australia and Fiji, becoming chartered in 1983. This work led to a post as a University lecturer at Cambridge University.

In 1997, Sarah took up a Chair in the Institute for Geotechnical Engineering at ETH Zurich where she leads a prolific research group generating a huge and important scientific output. In 2009 Sarah was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2012 she served on the Search Committee for the Queen Elizabeth II Prize – the Nobel Prize for Engineering.

As an athlete, Sarah represented Great Britain at the elite level in triathlon from 1983 to 1993, competing in the 1990 Commonwealth Games Triathlon in Auckland, New Zealand and winning 20 elite ETU European Championship medals in triathlon and duathlon. She has also competed at the elite level in squash and sculling and been National Elite Champion in 5 sports in 4 countries between 1981 and 2002. In 2007 she was appointed Chair of the newly formed British Triathlon Federation Board and President of British Triathlon Federation. For her services to sport she was made an OBE in 1997, and promoted to CBE in 2012.

Sarah received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.