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Jan Paterson MBE: oration

Read Dr Michael Silk's oration on Jan Paterson MBE for the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in June 2014.


Chancellor, it is my pleasure to introduce Ms Jan Paterson MBE, an exceptional sports administrator, a senior figure at the British Olympic Association (BOA), who has played an important role in the development of students and sporting facilities at the University of Bath.

Over the last 25 years, Jan Paterson has become one of the most powerful and impressive women leaders in sport management, leadership and administration. She has broken down barriers in the sporting world, impacted upon policy for women and young people in sport and continues to be involved with various partnership initiatives impacting the Olympic Movement, including the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, where she was the first female Chef De Mission for Team GB. She advises on corporate social responsibility for Olympic partners such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Visa, making a major impact on a range of social policy initiatives.

In her position as Director of Olympic Relations on the BOA’s senior management team she plays a pivotal role in the educational legacy of the Olympic Games and the BOA’s mission to transform lives through the power of the Olympic values and the inspirational achievements of Team GB. Her achievements have been recognised both domestically and internationally. She was appointed to the International Olympic Committee’s steering group for Olympic Education and as an advisor to the International Olympic Academy. She is a Board member of the London 2012 international education programme ‘International Inspiration’, a partnership with UNICEF, the British Council and UK Sport, which enriches the lives millions of young people around the world through inclusive sporting initiatives. Perhaps most impressively, her achievements have been recognised by the IOC through the award of the highly prestigious De Coubertin award/diploma for contribution to the Olympic Movement and sport; she was also awarded an MBE this January for her services to sport.

Her achievements are fully in line with the value placed on the academic study of sport, research and scholarship, sport performance and the teaching of physical education at the University of Bath. Her involvement with the University began in 1995, when she acted as the catalyst for Bath’s successful application to host the European Youth Olympic Days which launched the early development of sports facilities at Bath. She has continued to be involved with the University, supporting the annual Olympic Day Run (a worldwide celebration of Olympic day) that enhances community and youth engagement with physical activity and strengthens school partnerships, and has been central to the involvement of the University with the London 2012 legacy. She has contributed to our programmes in Sport & Social Sciences and the PGCE through her role as CEO of the British Olympic Foundation (BOF): she meets with and mentors students, provides guest lectures and door-opening placement opportunities that lead to graduate level employment. The BOF also provides two annual Dissertation prizes for graduates—Innovation and Academic Achievement.

Outside of her links with the University, she continues to play a significant leadership role in sport. She has recently been appointed as a Trustee of the Spirit of 2012 Trust, the endowment legacy of the London 2012 Games and will lead Team England as Chef De Mission later this month at the Commonwealth Games. Her legacy for women, for sport, for Olympic education, and for the academic study of sport at the University of Bath is highly deserving of this recognition.

Chancellor, I present to you Jan Paterson MBE who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Dr Michael Silk

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