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Sir Peter Hall
Sir Peter Hall

Press Release - 27 June 2006

Sir Peter Hall to receive honorary doctorate at one of ten degree ceremonies in Bath

Theatre director Sir Peter Hall and former Vodaphone head Sir Christopher Gent are to receive honorary doctorates from the University of Bath next week.

Sir Peter will be made a Doctor of Letters and Sir Christopher a Doctor of Laws at ceremonies (on Wednesday 5 July and Tuesday 4 July respectively) in Bath Abbey.

There will be ten ceremonies from 4-6 July at which 2500 undergraduates and postgraduate students, the most ever graduating from the University, will receive their degree awards.

One of the University’s most senior staff, Professor Peter Redfern, will tell an audience of around 600 University officials, academics, students and their families that Sir Peter has a unique combination of “the highest artistic sensibility and achievement with the drive and political skills of the chief executive. Whatever drives him, we have cause to be grateful for a lifetime’s contribution to our theatrical and artistic life.”

Sir Peter, who receives his award at a ceremony at 10-30am on 5 July, 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.

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.

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 Tuesday 4 July and Thursday 6 July these will occur at approximately 10-20am, 11-30am (return), 2-05pm, 3-15pm (return), 4-50pm and 6pm (return). On Wednesday 5 July 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).

Further honorary graduates on Tuesday 4 July:

• Dame Stephanie Shirley. Dame Stephanie 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. Since retiring as Honorary Life President of Xansa in 1993 she has been a corporate board member of several leading companies. 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. Sir John 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 in February of this year with a market capitalisation of £1.3 billion. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineers and Technologists, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Institute of Physics. In October he will take up the Chair of the Medical Research Council. 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.

Further honorary graduates on Wednesday 5 July:

• Sir David Varney. Sir David has a distinguished career in both the private and the public sectors. In the private sector, his many 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 has a strong commitment to the view that business must be socially responsible, reflected in positions including President of the Council for the Institute of Employment Studies and President of the Chartered Management Institute. He will receive the degree of Doctor of Laws.

• U A Fanthorpe. UA Fanthorpe left her post as Head of English at Cheltenham Ladies’ College to train as a counsellor, and worked as a secretary, receptionist and hospital clerk in Bristol. She drew upon her experiences for her first published volume of poetry Side Effects (1978). Her poetry has dealt with many themes including love and its absence, and the effects of war, as well as historical themes and personal reminiscences, often with humour. In 2001 she was awarded the CBE for services to poetry and in 2003 the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. She was also the first woman to be nominated for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry. Throughout all of this her home has been in Gloucestershire, near Bath. She will receive the degree of Doctor of Letters.

Honorary graduates on Thursday 6 July:

• Sir Terence Matthews. Sir Terence has been described as a blend of talented engineer, evangelical salesman and technological visionary. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering and has had a highly successful career as an entrepreneur and builder of businesses. His first company, Mitel, sold the first affordable push button tone phones, and its success went on to fund further companies, developing into a world leading company in ATM network technology, which sold for around £5 billion. Sir Terence has been a major presence in the investment market. He has remained loyal to his Welsh roots, investing tens of millions of pounds into the Welsh economy, including the Celtic Manor Resort which will host golf’s Ryder Cup in 2010. He will receive the degree of Doctor of Engineering.

• Professor Raymond Schinazi. Professor Schinazi is an academic scientist who has been pivotal in the discovery and development of successful anti-HIV and anti-hepatitis drugs. Up to 70 per cent of all people treated for such infections have received a drug discovered all or in part by Professor Schinazi. He is Professor of Pediatrics and Chemistry and Director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology at Emory University, USA, and of the Virology/ Drug Discovery Core for the Emory University Centre for AIDS Research. He is also an entrepreneur and has founded several start-up biotechnology companies. His work has produced millions of dollars for Emory University. Despite commercial success his passion is designing drugs to give life. 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.

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