Graduation Ceremonies

Honorary Graduates

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

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

Professor Yonghua Song

Professor Yonghua Song

He received an honorary degreee of Doctor of Engineering.


Professor Yonghua Song started his academic career in 1989 at Tsinghua University (China) as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. In 1991, he was among the earliest Chinese talents invited by the Royal Society to establish research links with UK universities. Professor Song joined the University of Bath in 1992. This was the time when artificial intelligence was opening up many new possibilities for difficult engineering problems and the University was leading the country’s effort in exploring its use in electrical power engineering. Professor Song quickly became a major force behind this exciting development. In 4 years he produced 30 journal papers and three books, one of which, “Intelligent System Applications in Electric Power Systems”, received the National Book Prize by the Institute of Electrical Engineering.

At the University of Bath, Professor Song established a reputation for having the drive, vision and determination to make things happen. In 1997, at the age of 32, he joined Brunel University as the Research Professor of Power Systems, making him the youngest engineering professor in the UK at the time.

The UK had just privatised its electricity supply industry, creating a competitive environment that would apply downward pressure on its supply costs. There were, however, significant inefficiencies in the electricity market. At Brunel, Professor Song made major advances in understanding market behaviour and developed key innovations to underpin efficient market design and operation. He explored a wide range of innovative network technologies to enable a ‘range extension’ to wires already on the ground. Recognizing his significant and internationally acknowledged contributions to power systems, in 2002 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by Brunel University. In 2004, at the age of 39, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In the same year, he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Graduate Studies at Brunel and in 2007 he was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Professor Song’s career continued to develop rapidly and by 2007 he was a Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Liverpool and the Executive President of Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, the first Sino-UK campus, in China. Professor Song was the inaugural president responsible for its development and expansion and it has grown into a highly dynamic international university with over 5000 high calibre students. He was then recruited by Tsinghua University as the Assistant President for International Affairs. In this role Professor Song’s talent was spotted by the central Chinese government. He was appointed Director of the Chinese National Office of the Recruitment Program of Global Experts (the 1000 Talents Program). In 2012 Professor Song became Executive Vice-President of Zhejiang University.

In a recent Times interview, Professor Song commented on Chinese universities, “…to become a world class university, to educate leaders of tomorrow, we need an international perspective”. To bring Zhejiang University to the centre of the international stage, Professor Song spearheaded two bold initiatives. He led China’s first joint science and research venture outside the country, co-investing with Imperial College in research facilities at the new Imperial West venue, the former BBC Centre, firmly putting China in the heart of research excellence in science, technology, engineering, and medicine. Professor Song’s second major initiative was to set up a 200-acre International Campus between Hangzhou and Shanghai, collaborating with the very best academic institutions from across the world.

Throughout his extensive career, Professor Song has maintained very close research links with Bath. He is a pioneer in engaging the Chinese government with universities from across the world. He has strengthened the Sino-UK educational ties that have significantly benefitted both countries’ capacity in teaching and research, and cultivating world citizens who are better equipped to tackle global challenges in food, energy, health, environment and climate change.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Professor Yonghua Song, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa.

Professor Furong Li


Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.


Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and the congregation Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, an inspirational figure to young people. She has achieved high visibility through activities run by her company, Science Innovation Ltd, that presents a ‘Tour of the Universe, with her husband, Dr Martin Pocock, and colleagues, to date to tens of thousands of pupils.

Many of her audience are pupils at inner-city schools and part of the presentation is talking about how and why she is a scientist, defying myths about careers, class and gender demonstrating the wonders of space by showing innovative simulated space journeys using celestial flyby projections and has produced a film which features her on a “Big Brother” simulated spaceship journey to Mars.

She has been co-host of the BBC’s longest running astronomy series, The Sky at Night since February 2014 after a break of several months, following in the august footsteps of Patrick Moore. Her television career also includes presenting BBC Two’s Do We Really Need The Moon? and Do We Really Need Satellites? as well as regular appearances on BBC One’s The One Show. On the radio, she discussed her biography on BBC Radio 4's renowned programme Desert Island Discs in March 2010.

She has received many high profile awards in addition to her MBE which she was given in 2009. In inverse chronological order these are the following: 2012 and 2013 she was listed as one of the UK top 100 then top 10 most influential black people and the Yale University Centre for Dyslexia "Out of the box thinking award", in 2011 Women in Film and Television gave her the Winner of the “New Talent” award, in 2010 she received an Honorary fellowship from the British Science Association, in 2009 she won Red Magazine's “Red’s Hot Women” Award in the pioneering category and was given an honorary degree from Staffordshire University. 2008 saw her deliver the British Science Association Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture and win the Arthur C Clark Outreach Award for Promotion of Space. The organisation that is now Women in Science and Engineering made her their Woman of Outstanding Achievement in 2006 and in 2005 she was awarded "Certificate of Excellence" by the Champions Club UK in recognition of efforts at promoting the study of science amongst young girls especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Back further to her childhood... Space has fascinated Dr Aderin-Pocock ever since she was six years old, when she saw an astronaut on a beautiful book in her primary school library. Her dream was to work in space and astronomy and the very first instrument she made as a child was her own telescope. She has dyslexia and, as a child, when she told a teacher she wanted to be an astronaut, it was suggested she try nursing, “because that’s scientific too”. Fortunately, she ignored what passed for careers advice to women in those days. I can confirm similar experiences. Instead she read for a Physics Degree and followed it with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, both from Imperial College London. Her PhD involved development of an ultra-thin film measurement system. The instrument developed was subsequently sold by an Imperial College spin-off company.

While she never realised her childhood dream to become an astronaut, she did spend her career leading teams creating bespoke instruments in both industrial and academic environments. She has worked on the Gemini Telescope in South America, co-developed hand-held land mine detectors and spearheaded work on an optical subsystem for the James Webb Space Telescope that is replacing the Hubble.
Now she is a prominent space scientist and science communicator, awarded an MBE in 2009 for her services to science education. She is a judge at the National Science and Engineering Competition and the finals are held at The Big Bang Fair every March to reward young people who have achieved excellence in a science, technology, engineering or maths project. She also holds her third Science in Society Fellowship awarded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council held at University College London.

I ask you to join me in praising her to the skies, in the most literal sense. Chancellor, I present to you Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

Dr Alison Walker


Tim Hollingsworth

Tim Hollingsworth

He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.


Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and the congregation, Mr Tim Hollingsworth. Tim is renowned for his eminent leadership in elite sport, particularly Paralympic and Disability Sport, where he currently serves as the Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association. Both in this role, and that of Secretary General of ParalympicsGB during London 2012, he was instrumental in delivering the Games that inspired the nation and created the ultimate momentum for the international Paralympic movement.

To understand how this came about we need to look at the pivotal events in Tim’s career. Tim graduated with a Combined Honours degree in English and Drama from Exeter University in 1989, and followed this by obtaining a Masters Degree in Drama from the same institution in 1990. These were important formative years in his professional development. At this stage, he wasn’t to know how important his performance training and understanding of communications would be for his career, where he would ultimately need to effectively promote a powerful message against the backdrop of a global event.

These skills continued to develop in the early stages of his career, working in various Public Relations and Press Officer roles, before becoming Head of Media Relations for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 1994. He remembers this period of his career fondly, particularly around the 1997 election period, which fascinated him and fuelled his interest in politics and public policy. His rapid rise into seniority within the media industry continued and, in 2001, he took up his first Directorship with HBL Media, a strategic communications consultancy. As a member of the senior management team he was primarily responsible for people and development strategy.

Four years later, in 2005, Tim made his first foray into the elite sport arena, becoming Director of Policy and Communications for UK Sport. In this role, he was part of a critical development phase, being heavily involved in persuading Government and commercial partners to provide unprecedented funding for British athletes.

During his last year at UK Sport he became Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the strategic direction and delivery of UK Sport's Major Events and International Relations Programmes, as well as its Commercial Partnerships, Strategy and Communications. It is fair to say that, over the last 10-years, he has committed himself fully to a career which allows him to apply his skills and leadership in media and communications to create opportunities for UK Sport and ultimately the athletes they serve.

His most high profile achievements and his close connections with the University of Bath, have been realised in the last 3-years, since becoming Chief Executive of the British Paralympic Association. The BPA chose the University of Bath as its preferred preparation and training base for ParalympicsGB leading up to London 2012, resulting in multiple training camps, including the final camp before athletes travelled to the Paralympic Village in 2012. Tim was also instrumental in helping the University establish momentum for its’ Research Centre for DisAbility Sport & Health (DASH).

Tim has been able to observe the wider impact of his endeavours on the success of our athletes during the Games and the subsequent impact on the nation. He prefers to speak of the momentum that has been created from London 2012, as opposed to the legacy it has created. In his own words, “legacy suggests that we have reached a pinnacle and we’re trying to sustain it where, by contrast, Paralympic Sport is just starting out!” This momentum was clearly carried into the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games, where ParalympicsGB achieved the greatest ever performance at a Winter Paralympic Games by a British team, including our first ever Winter gold medal.

Now taking pride in his involvement in a range of wider local and national initiatives to promote sport, he continues to remove barriers and create opportunities.. He has made an enormous impact in a short period of time and continues to create momentum for Paralympic and disability sport.

Chancellor, I present to you Mr Tim Hollingsworth, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Dr James Bilzon


David Carpenter

David Carpenter

He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration.


Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and the congregation Mr David Carpenter, who has left a lasting legacy for British Sport. To anyone who sees no place for entrepreneurship in the public sector, David’s career journey is a showcase for the transformational power of innovation, set off by small but persistent steps and motivated by a desire to make a difference.

In 1976, David Carpenter was where you are today, graduating from the University of Bath with a degree in Social Sciences and looking ahead to creating a better future. In him stirred a powerful mix that would propel his career: passion for sport, entrepreneurial spirit, and leadership competence, enabled by two years of management training at Marks and Spencer prior to his university studies.

At the University of Bath, David won a half blue for tennis and served as Athletics Union President for two years (1975-1977), working on developments that included the first sports hall, swimming pool, and sports pavilion. As the first sabbatical president, he was also Chair of Southern Universities Sport and won a scholarship with the GB team to the World Student Games in 1977. That experience opened up the prospect of a career in sport.

David joined the Sports Council in 1978 for a momentous 24-year career. Having turned a small ‘Recreation Management’ exhibition into a roaring success over nine years, he was ready to tackle bigger challenges. In the early 1990s sport had a great ally in John Major at the top level of government. David researched the possibility of a national lottery to fund sport and promoted it as the only viable way for Britain to compete on a world stage. This effort paid off with the creation of the National Lottery Fund in 1994 with its five "good cause" beneficiaries. As 22 million TV viewers watched its first draw live in November 1994, a watershed opportunity emerged for British sport.

Exploiting this opportunity was a huge change for the Sports Council, a small £25 million organisation, and its risky prospect stirred internal resistance. David led the way forward with the hallmark of a successful entrepreneur: clear vision, building strong teams, never losing sight of operational details, and focus on milestones and learning. He served as Director of the National Lottery Sports Fund from 1994 until 2003.

The Fund was the first to gain accreditation and make awards. With David at the helm, it developed with a dizzying pace, processing 28,000 enquiries in its first 4 months and keeping up with a tenfold increase in budget in its first year. During David’s tenure, the Fund allocated £2.6 billion in over 29,000 grants, from grassroots to elite performance.

On top of the grassroots support for sport, David implemented a strategy that enabled Britain’s leap from mediocrity to third place in the Olympic medals table of London 2012. Although it is athletes and not officials who win medals, David sees his contribution as creating the right environment for talented performers to succeed on the elite stage.

David led the creation and operation of the ‘World Class’ elite performance programmes. This was followed by the establishment of the English Institute of Sport, aiming to improve service provision to high-level performers. In this role, he oversaw the investment of £120 million in a network of modern training facilities. The University of Bath was among the first to seize this opportunity, with a £30 million project to develop the Sports Training Village. A risky commitment at the time, it has become an anchor of our campus experience and community engagement.

Since 2005, David has been a Director of the Sports Consultancy, TrioPlus, driving improvement and opportunity development in organisations spanning the major sports bodies, local government, universities and the voluntary sector. In the London 2012 Games, David stepped up as volunteer leader, a ‘Gamesmaker’, interviewing the potential volunteers and working at the Paralympics to ensure the superb delivery of the events.

David’s career journey has turned what once had looked impossible into what is now taken for granted. It inspires us to take on the next impossible.

Chancellor, I present to you Mr David Carpenter, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa.

Professor Dimo Dimov


Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry

Robert Fry

He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Law.


Vice-Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and to this congregation Lt. General Sir Robert Fry, Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath and Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Sir Robert built his career and reputation as a senior officer in the Corps of the Royal Marines and he remains a major figure in informed debates over the future of our defence and the maintenance of our security.Sir Robert is an alumnus of this University and took a degree in Economics before working for a period in the private sector in the United States. New York’s loss was to be our gain, however, and Sir Robert returned to the UK and joined the Royal Marines in 1973.

Vice-Chancellor, please allow me to remind the congregation of the circumstances the British armed forces faced in 1973. The announcement of British withdrawal from ‘East of Suez’ was five years old, the Oil Shocks of that year further tightened the financial constraints under which British military power could be projected, the Troubles in Northern Ireland were at their height and presented an unprecedented domestic security threat, and the UK’s chief ally, the United States, was entering a period of introspection as the extent of its imminent defeat in Indo-China became apparent. It was an environment in which fresh ideas and forensic thinking about military doctrine were at a premium and Sir Robert thrived in it. He rose quickly through the Marines, initially working at the MOD and the Directorate of Special Forces, as well as earning an MA (with Distinction) in War Studies at King’s College London.

In 1989, Sir Robert was appointed Chief of Staff, HQ 3 Commando Brigade, and he subsequently played a central role in protecting Kurdish safe havens in Northern Iraq through Operation Safe Haven. This operation combined elements of a military and humanitarian operation to great effect. In 1995 Sir Robert took command of 45 Commando and in 1999 he Commanded 3 Commando Brigade and deployed to Kosovo. Like Operation Safe Haven, the Kosovo campaign required a careful calibration of military and humanitarian elements and it was carried out in a tense and potentially perilous international climate. Sir Robert was subsequently appointed Commandant General Royal Marines in 2001 and in 2002 became Commander of United Kingdom Amphibious Forces. The following year he commanded the amphibious component of UK operations in the Gulf.

The start of the Gulf War in 2003 saw Sir Robert commanding the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood and directing British operations in that conflict. He was then appointed Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments) and, in 2006, he became Senior British Military Representative and Deputy Commanding General of the Multinational Force in Iraq. This was to be Sir Robert’s last high-profile role in this phase of his life and he retired from the Royal Marines in 2007.

Sir Robert embraced life after the Marines, while retaining strong links with the organisation and culture from which he came. His portfolio of roles is impressive. He has held very senior positions in companies such as HP Enterprise Services, Defence and Security UK, and McKinney Rogers International, and is currently the Chair of Albany Associates. He is also a Visiting Professor at Reading University, a member of the Royal United Services Institute and a trustee of the Charity Help for Heroes. He is an active and highly respected essayist and columnist for prestigious outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Prospect magazine, and the Huffington Post. He remains a Colonel in the Special Reconnaissance Regiment.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fry who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Professor Charles Lees


Professor Gordon McVie

Gordon McVie

He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine.


Vice-Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and the congregation Professor Gordon McVie. Gordon is a clinician, researcher and editor who has spent his career pushing the boundaries of research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

His remarkable career started when he was advised at school that “his mediocrity would likely make him a good GP". Seeing medicine as an "easy exit-strategy from a school that I hated" he went to study medicine at Edinburgh University where he suddenly found his passion to investigate disease and motivate others to join him in his quest.

He graduated from Edinburgh University with a bachelor of medicine and a MD/PhD and went on to work successfully in numerous positions. Initially, as a senior lecturer at the Cancer Research Campaign Oncology Unit in Glasgow and later as a consultant in oncology at the Antoni van Leewenhoek hospital in Amsterdam. At that time he was also Clinical Research Director at the National Cancer Institute of the Netherlands.
Gordon was one of the architects responsible for the formation of the Cancer Trials Networks in Scotland, Wales, and England, and was a founding member of the UK National Cancer Research Institute.

He is best known for his work leading the Cancer Research Campaign as CEO into a merger with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) to create the largest cancer research charity in Europe. Post-merger, he assumed the position of Joint CEO in the newly created charity, Cancer Research UK, which he maintained until 2002.

Gordon currently lives in Bristol and works as a Senior Consultant at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, where he has responsibility for planning strategy and science policy. He is also a founding editor of ecancermedicalscience, an open access cancer journal hosted by the European Institute of Oncology. Educational videos from this journal have been watched by over 10 million cancer professionals who originate from more than 200 countries.

During his career he has published over 300 original articles including 5 books. Key outcomes of his work include establishing more pin-point administration of chemotherapy, encouraging the use of chemotherapy for the treatment of lung cancer throughout the EU. He has also emphasised the importance of adjusting a patient’s management according to their ethnicity.
Professor McVie spoke at a recent Cancer Research @ Bath event and, Vice-Chancellor, I was struck by several features which I think go some way to explaining Professor McVie’s success. His enthusiasm for research, his incredible energy and his breadth of knowledge shone out. He also has a firm belief that clinicians and researchers should put cancer patients at the centre of everything they do.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Professor Gordon McVie, who is eminently worthy to receive the
degree of Doctor of Medicine honoris causa.

Dr Andrew Chalmers


Robert Randall

Robert Randall

He received an honorary degree of Master of Arts.


Vice-Chancellor, born in December 1948 at Eastbourne, East Sussex, Robert David Randall attended the village primary school in nearby Polegate and despite several spells in detention due to his rebellious nature, managed to pass his 11-plus. Opting first for a place at Bexhill Down County Technical School, he later transferred to Bexhill Grammar School to study for maths, further maths and physics A-levels. Bath University of Technology was his choice of University. The Claverton campus was in the process of construction in 1967 so the first year was spent at Ashley Down in Bristol, site of the University’s predecessor, Bristol College of Advanced Technology. The programme involved two placements in industry, and for the first of these he was given the opportunity to work at the Atlas Computer Laboratory using the Atlas computer, which was at that time the most powerful in the country.

Following a further placement, he returned to the Claverton campus where the maths and physics blocks had now been built, and the remainder of his course was based at Bath. Finding it difficult to tackle some subjects covered in the final year, he took an Ordinary Level pass on what was an Honours course. Not feeling inclined to retake exams the following year, he spent two years tending cucumbers in the hothouses of a local market garden while deciding what to do next. Agricultural wages were as poor then as they are now, so it was not long before he decided on a career in computing, the most enjoyable aspect of his time at the University.

He joined the South West Gas Board, whose computing and clerical headquarters were at Sydney Wharf, Bath – now a University residence. His career progressed through programming to systems and data analysis and design, finally becoming project leader. Restructuring and rationalisation of resources and processes across British Gas led to redundancy and resultant free time, allowing the possibility of part-time working and voluntary work.

He had first become aware of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) and its museum collections during the 1980s, while conducting field work to provide data for the Avon Flora Project. Botany had always been a keen interest, and he knew that the Geology Museum in Bath housed a collection of plant specimens most likely including the Hairy Spurge, which in Britain had only ever been found in Bath. Consulting the collection Rob took note of their appearance and where they had been collected, but despite his optimism, he never managed to locate any Hairy Spurge in the area and it is now accepted as extinct.

At the time he was made redundant BRLSI had recently been revived under independent trustees, and in 1997 he joined a team of volunteers identifying and cataloguing the library and museum collections. He became Chair of Collections, a post held until April 2013. He was also elected a Trustee for the maximum permitted nine years, but his main work for the Institution revolved around his computing skills and his knowledge of natural history, especially botany. There were tens of thousands of specimens that had not been accessioned or catalogued, including all the natural history collection. Those that had been accessioned had a card index that was transferred to a computer catalogue before an audit was undertaken and the catalogue updated with more accurate information. A 2011 upgrade to a networked system connected to a server has seen him largely employed on the major task of rationalising the data, a project which will result in information on the collections being made available to the general public for the first time, via BRLSI's website.

Vice-Chancellor: I present Robert David Randall who, by virtue of his dedication and commitment to the revival of an institution which is now a part of Bath’s cultural and educational landscape; through his efforts to record the flora of the region; and by his general commitment to the pursuit and communication of knowledge, is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Master of Arts honoris causa.

Dr Steve Wharton