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Graduates once more: honorary degrees awarded 2016

27 July 2016

A dozen Bristol alumni became graduates again when they were awarded honorary degrees during graduation ceremonies in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building.

An honorary degree is a major accolade, awarded in recognition of outstanding achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the University’s mission. Congratulations to all our alumni whose achievements were honoured this month. 

Dr Lew Watts (BSc 1974) who is an expert in the energy industry and is the President of Lew Watts & Associates LLC was awarded a Doctor of Science. In 2010, he chaired the World Bank’s external panel on climate change and energy security. Listen to his speech here.

Dr Jennifer Dixon (MB ChB 1984), Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, received an honorary Doctor of Science. Jennifer has been elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and awarded a CBE for services to public health. Listen to her speech here.

Dr Gerald Avison (BSc 1962, PhD 1967), the founder and Non-Executive Director of TTP Group - a Queen's Award-winning technology and product development company, was awarded a Doctor of Engineering. Listen to his speech here.

Daniel Schaffer (LLB 1986), Chair of the University's Law School Advisory Board, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He sits on numerous industry bodies and has been instrumental in a range of initiatives to help benefit law students at Bristol. Listen to his speech here.

Bill Ray (BSc 1975), former Chair of the University of Bristol Convocation and Alumni Association and member of the Board of Trustees, was presented with a Doctor of Laws honorary degree. He was instrumental in building the University of Bristol alumni community, has contributed invaluable expertise to the University and demonstrated considerable public service. Listen to his speech here.

Anne Burrell (BA 1964), the former Principal of Merchants' Academy, was awarded with a Doctor of Laws accolade in recognition of her work in the education sector. Listen to her speech here.

David Nicholls (BA 1988), one of the UK's most successful screenwriters and an internationally best-selling and critically acclaimed novelist, returned to receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Watch his speech here.

Dr Wendy Ewart (PhD 1976), one of the most senior and influential UK figures in science strategy and policy, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Dr Ewart is the retired Deputy CEO and Director of Strategy for the Medical Research Council, where she was responsible for the MRC’s new 'Research Changes Lives' strategy. Listen to her speech here.

Baroness Dawn Primarolo (MPhil 1984-1990), a member of the House of Lords and former Member of Parliament for Bristol South from 1987 to 2015, was presented with a Doctor of Laws honorary degree. Listen to her speech here.

Professor Timothy Palmer FRS CBE (BSc 1974), a Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford, was presented with a Doctor of Science accolade. Listen to his speech here.

Dr Martin Kiszko (Cert 1980, PhD 2000), a best-selling author of historical fiction, was awarded a Doctor of Letters accolade. His passion for history has taken him to 70 countries and all seven continents, and his novels are renowned for their meticulous historical detail informed by extensive research into Roman history. Listen to his speech here.

Jane Camblin (BA 1973), Head of the United Nations International School in New York, was presented with a Doctor of Laws honorary degree. Listen to her speech here.

Further information

Every year, the University bestows a number of honorary degrees on distinguished individuals who merit special recognition for outstanding achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the mission of the University. 

The people concerned receive their degrees at one of the two degree congregations held in January and July in the Great Hall of the Wills Memorial Building and during the ceremony, an oration is delivered in commendation of each honorary graduand.

The awarding of an honorary degree to an individual is recommended by the Honorary Degrees Committee and approved by Senate and Council.