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Procession at award ceremony
Procession at award ceremony
Procession at award ceremony
Procession at award ceremony
Dame Stephanie Shirley
Dame Stephanie Shirley

Internal News - 04 July 2006

Summer degree award ceremonies begin at Bath Abbey today

The University’s summer degree ceremonies begin today, with around 750 students from Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Architecture & Civil Engineering, Electronic & Electrical Engineering and the School of Management attending ceremonies at Bath Abbey at 10-30am, 2-15pm and 5pm.

The honorary graduates at today’s ceremonies are three success stories from the business world: Dame Stephanie Shirley, Sir John Chisholm and Sir Christopher Gent.

Dame Stephanie Shirley arrived in the UK from Germany in 1939 as an unaccompanied child refugee. Her early hardship was a spur to success, and she set up an IT company, now known as Xansa, which was to change the status of professional women in hi tech occupations and become a multimillion pound business.

Dame Stephanie has set up one of the top 50 grant-giving foundations in the UK, the Shirley Foundation, which has donated £50 million over the last seven years. Her vision, energy and philanthropy are driving the Foundation’s research funding to identify the causes of autism by 2014 and halving its global costs by 2020. She will be awarded the Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Sir John Chisholm is Executive Chairman of QinetiQ, an organisation that is a major presence in the defence, security and technology markets. A spin off from Sir John’s reorganisation of the UK Ministry of Defence’s research laboratories, QinetiQ floated on the London Stock Exchange last February with a market capitalisation of £1.3 billion. He is President of the Institute of Engineering & Technology (October 2005-06), and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineers and Technologists, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Institute of Physics. QinetiQ is now working in partnership with the University of Bath, and others, to contribute to the development of young people. He will be awarded the Degree of Doctor of Engineering.

Sir Christopher Gent became Managing Director of Vodafone in 1985, at that time a small British company. Two decades later he had turned it into the world’s largest mobile telecommunications operation and engineered Vodafone’s historic acquisition of the Germany company, Mannesmann for £122 billion.

He was knighted in 2001 for his contributions to the development of the mobile communications industry and has been lauded for his outstanding commercial and strategic leadership.

Today’s ceremonies are the first of ten taking place from 4-6 July at which 2500 undergraduates and postgraduate students, the most ever graduating from the University, will receive their degree awards.

The ceremonies are all preceded by a public procession of some of the University’s senior officers and academics, presided over by its Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat. The processions will begin at the Guildhall, go into the High Street, right into Cheap Street, left down Farrs Passage into the Abbey Churchyard. They will return after the ceremonies past Rebecca’s Fountain and into the High Street. These roads will be closed to traffic for about six minutes during the processions. On today and Thursday these will occur at approximately 10-20am, 11-30am (return), 2-05pm, 3-15pm (return), 4-50pm and 6pm (return). On Wednesday they will occur at approximately 10-20am, 11-30am (return), 1-20pm, 2-30pm (return), 4-20pm, 5-30pm (return), 7-20pm, 8-30pm (return).

Other honorary graduates are:
Sir Peter Hall, who is best known for his work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, which he founded in 1960, at the age of 29. He served as its artistic director from then to 1968. He was director of the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988 and after leaving it he founded his own company. He was made Commander of the British Empire in 1963 and in 1977 was knighted for his services to the theatre. He will be made a Doctor of Letters.

Sir David Varney, whose achievements include appointments as Managing Director of Shell UK, as Chief Executive of BG (formerly British Gas), and as Chairman of mm02. He is currently Executive Chairman of HM Revenue and Customs. He will receive the degree of Doctor of Laws.

U A Fanthorpe, who was the first woman to be nominated for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry. She will receive the degree of Doctor of Letters.

Sir Terence Matthews, whose first company, Mitel, sold the first affordable push button tone phones, and its success created a world leading company in ATM network technology which sold for around £5 billion. He will receive the degree of Doctor of Engineering.

Professor Raymond Schinazi, an academic scientist who has been pivotal in the discovery and development of successful anti-HIV and anti-hepatitis drugs. He took his undergraduate degree at the University of Bath and graduated with a PhD in 1976. He will receive the degree of Doctor of Science.