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The procession through town during summer graduation in 2007
The procession through town during summer graduation in 2007

Press Release - 24 June 2008

The University of Bath’s 2008 summer award ceremonies begin today at Bath Abbey

The University of Bath’s 2008 summer award ceremonies begin today at Bath Abbey, with some 650 students attending three services during the day. There will be a total of ten ceremonies, held between Tuesday 24 and Thursday 26 June.

Honorary graduates this year include: Sir Ian Botham, in recognition of his work as a charity fundraiser and as a role model for young people today; eminent engineers Dr David McMurtry and Dr Stephen Charlton; Lord Sainsbury, a highly successful businessman, politician and philanthropist; and Bob Wigley, senior vice president and chairman of Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Merrill Lynch. For more information about the honorary graduates, see below.

The first ceremony, at 10am, saw students from the Departments of Pharmacy & Pharmacology and Physics receive their degree awards, watched by their families and the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Tim Ball.

The University's Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat, welcomed the audience of students, friends and family. He spoke about the enduring history of Bath Abbey and thanked its rector for his hospitality, before talking on the theme of the ‘student experience’ at Bath.

He said: “Throughout their time with us, students are encouraged to fulfil their potential, personally, academically and socially. This we seek to do through a mixture of intellectual challenge and individually tailored support.”

Lord Tugendhat also spoke about the development of the campus and plans for the future: “Since 2001, we have invested £80 million in capital construction projects, and a further £50 million is to be invested over the next few years.

“The time has definitely passed when any of the premier universities in the UK can rely on the government to provide sufficient resources to meet their current needs and future aspirations.

“We need to build up long-term endowments as the foundation of future investment, and to give us the financial independence required by any strong, enduring institution.”

During the first ceremony, Lord Sainsbury of Turville received a Doctor of Science. Lord Sainsbury is a highly successful businessman, politician and philanthropist.

As Minister of Science & Technology in the Blair government, Lord Sainsbury has had an enormous impact on science. He resided over a substantial increase in government spending on science, together with increased investment in innovation, knowledge generation and technological infrastructure.

In his oration about Lord Sainsbury, Professor Richard Guy, Head of the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology, said: “The impact of his thinking on science and engineering-focussed universities, such as Bath, will be profound and challenges us in many ways: for example, to develop ideas with practical relevance, to collaborate productively with the private sector…and to enhance the teaching of science and technology so that increasing numbers of young people are encouraged to pursue careers in science and engineering.”

Lord Sainsbury has made significant philanthropic contributions through a number of trusts established by his family. The flagship, which he set up in 1967, is the Gatsby Charitable Foundation which, in its first 40 years of operation, has made grants totaling more than £400 million.

In the second ceremony, at 12.30pm, students from Computer Science and Mathematical Sciences will receive their degrees and Mr Neil Holloway will receive an honorary degree.

Mr Holloway, who will receive a Doctor of Science, is Vice President of Business Strategy for Microsoft International. Microsoft is the largest software company in the world with sales in excess of $51bn in 2007.

After completing a BSc in Mathematics at the University of Bath in the early 1980’s, Mr Holloway joined Microsoft in 1990. He attributes his success there to having an appropriate business strategy coupled with a focus on people and leadership. He said: “I aim to create an environment for great people to do their best, focussing on and developing their strengths rather than worrying about their weaknesses.”

His concern with developing each employee’s strengths and creating the best possible working environment led to Microsoft UK, under Neil’s leadership, being ranked first in the Sunday Times Top 100 best place to work survey in 2003.

In the third ceremony, at 3pm, students from Biology & Biochemistry and Natural Sciences will receive their degrees and Sir Ian Botham OBE will receive an honorary degree.

Sir Ian Botham OBE is one of Britain’s most loved sporting heroes. In a phenomenal test career that spanned 15 years, he played 102 tests, scored 5,200 runs, took 383 wickets and held 120 catches. He is widely recognised as one of the world’s best-ever all-rounders and one of England’s greatest ever cricketers.

Sir Ian has also achieved great things through his fundraising for charity. Since his first long-distance charity walk in 1985, he has raised more than £10 million for various charities, including Leukaemia Research.

Other honorary graduates are:

The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: