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Student receiving award from The Chancellor
Student receiving award from The Chancellor
Philip Williamson
Philip Williamson

Internal News - 13 December 2006

Winter degree ceremonies finish today

The winter degree awards finish today, with three ceremonies at the Assembly Rooms.

The civil rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Education, and the human rights lawyer Lord Joel Joffe will receive the degree of Doctor of Laws.

Around 400 students from Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Faculty of Science and Division for Lifelong Learning will receive their awards today. Yesterday three ceremonies took place at which 400 students received their awards.

The honorary graduand was Philip Williamson, Chief Executive of Nationwide Building Society, who was awarded the degree of Doctor of Business Administration.

Speaking of his leadership of Nationwide, Mr Williamson said he took great pride in the awards that the company receives for how it looks after its staff.

Describing the company’s employees as its ‘greatest business asset’ he spoke of Nationwide’s ‘very special relationship’ with the University of Bath and its School of Management.

“The University of Bath has made a significant contribution by helping us to get the best out of people, for themselves and the business. It has given us a great deal of help with key projects.”

Mr Williamson encouraged the graduates to be ambitious and competitive in their future careers. “Remember, pyramids get pretty narrow at the top. It can be lonely and windy from time to time. But sometimes the views can be spectacular.”

He said of his award: “I am very honoured to receive this doctorate, it means an enormous amount to me.”

In his oratory to Mr Williamson’s award, Professor Andrew Pettigrew, Dean of the University’s School of Management, said that he had created ‘a new brand of holistic leadership’.

“Philip Williamson has been a financial services leader way beyond the boundaries of the Nationwide. He has brought to his industry and to his Society new ideas, new performance standards, and new forms of societal engagement,” said Professor Pettigrew.

Mr Williamson joined Nationwide in 1991 to head its commercial lending area. He became a member of the Board in 1996 and Chief Executive in January 2002. He ensured that the building society kept its mutual status, rather than converting to a public limited company. Under his leadership membership has grown dramatically and profits maintained at a high level. He has campaigned against unacceptable practices in the financial services industry and championed community activity by businesses, including the Nationwide’s charitable support and involvement in football. In his introduction to the ceremony, the University’s Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat, said: “Philip Williamson serves as an outstanding role model as to how an individual can make a real difference.”

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