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Professor John Willis
Professor John Willis

Internal News - 27 June 2007

Day two of summer degree ceremonies

The 2007 summer degree ceremonies continued at the Abbey today, with a further 800 students attending at four ceremonies during the day.

The ceremonies saw students from the Faculty of Science and postgraduates from the Department of European Studies & Modern Languages receive their degree awards.

Yesterday the Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat, said the University had “grown into one of the top ten universities in the UK” and that its high rate of student retention – 94 per cent of new undergraduates went on to a second year – “reflected the high level of support our students get from the academic and other staff.”

“I believe the success of the University is measured not just in terms of examination results and league table positions, successful as we are in those areas, but in terms of the vibrancy of our research culture, our ability to enthuse students’ creativity, solve problems and foster new ideas, and the University of Bath has all of these attributes in abundance.”

He said the University would help develop the next generation of managers, engineers, designers, scientists, innovators and leaders.

In today’s ceremonies Ray Kelvin, the entrepreneur who set up the Ted Baker retail empire, and Professor John Willis, former head of the then School of Mathematics at the University of Bath, received honorary degrees.

Mr Kelvin started his first business in 1975, before launching his global designer brand of clothing in 1988 from a shop in Glasgow. The business is now worth around £300 million and there are Ted Baker stores on every continent and in most major cities around the world. Ged Roddy, the University’s Director of Sport, said that Mr Kelvin, a keen sports fan, has greatly helped the University’s sports scholarship programme, and is a frequent visitor to the University’s sports events.

“The Ted Baker phenomenon is founded upon sound business principles and underpinned by a strong ethical approach,” Mr Roddy said. Mr Kelvin received a Doctor of Business Administration degree.

An internationally-renowned mathematician, Professor Willis is known both for his accomplished research and his significant contribution to teaching. A Fellow of the Royal Society, his work in applied mathematics has significantly advanced our understanding of solid mechanics and, in particular, of the behaviour of composite materials.

He is also the originator of the John Willis award, an internal prize for excellence in teaching. This prize is awarded annually, and this year will be presented to Dr Eric Anderson from the Department of Education for accomplishment in research combined with a significant contribution to teaching, including pastoral support for students.

In addition, Professor Willis did much during his time at Bath to encourage sport, as well as the highest standards in mathematics. He received a Doctor of Science degree.