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Honorary Awards

Since 1966 the University of Bradford has awarded Honorary Degrees and Fellowships to outstanding individuals in recognition of their academic work and endeavour, their contribution to their chosen profession or field of activity, their contribution to the University, City or wider region, and their ability to act as a role model reflecting the University’s values.


Professor Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León – Doctor of Letters

In recognition of their significant impact to the field of international development as a globally renowned academic and politician.

Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León (Mexico, 1951) earned his Bachelor’s degree from the School of Economics of the Natìonal Polytechnic Institute in Mexico and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees at Yale University. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he attended the University of Bradford in the summer of 1973 to study project evaluation, an opportunity that decisively encouraged and supported his pursuit of graduate studies. 

After completing his education at Yale, Ernesto returned to Mexico to teach and do economic research. At a relatively young age, he became Deputy Director at the Central Bank of Mexico; Deputy Minister of the Budget; Minister of Economic Programming and the Budget; and Minister of Education. In 1994, he was elected President of Mexico, a position he held until December of 2000. 

Following his government service, Ernesto was invited to return to Yale University in 2002 to direct the newly created Center for the Study of Globalization. 

At Yale, Ernesto currently holds the appointments of Senior Fellow at the Jackson School of Global Affairs; Professor in the Field of International Economics and Politics; and Professor Adjunct of Forestry and Environmental Studies. 

He was Chairman (2005-2011) of the Board of the Global Development Network (GDN), an international organization based in New Delhi, India and Cairo, Egypt. He was also the founding Chairman (2013-2019) of the Board of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), a non-profit organisation giving policy advice and advocacy support on that subject in many countries. From 2011 to 2020 he served as co-chair of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington based think tank pursuing a better understanding of the issues of common interest for the nations of the Americas and was a member of the governing board of the World Economic Forum from 2002 to 2014.  

Ernesto is a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders using their collective experience and influence for peace, justice and human rights worldwide. He is also an active member the Group of Thirty, an independent international body to deepen understanding of global economic and financial issues. 

Professor Ernesto Zedillo, Honorary Graduate 2023

Steve Killelea A.M. – Doctor of the University

In recognition of their significant impact as a humanitarian-philanthropist and commitment to positive peace and sustainable development.

Steve Killelea A.M. is a distinguished, entrepreneur, philanthropist, film producer and author. Over the last two decades, Steve has applied his business skills to his many global philanthropic activities, establishing the internationally renowned global think tank, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), and private family charity, The Charitable Foundation, which now has over three million direct beneficiaries. He is also the Founder of the Global Peace Index, the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness.  

Established in 2007, IEP is a highly impactful non-profit, non-partisan research institute known for its innovative analysis on the relationship between business, peace and economic development. Its research is used by many international organisations, including the United Nations and World Bank. In 2013, a coalition of Australian Foundations recognised his funding of IEP as one of the 50 most impactful philanthropic gifts in Australia’s history. In the same year, Action on Armed Violence named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world on reducing armed violence.  

As an entrepreneur in the high technology industry, Steve founded and built one of Australia’s leading publicly listed IT companies, Integrated Research; and in 2001, he founded Smarter Capital, a venture capital company that specialises in investing in unique technologies with global applicability. Steve currently serves on the President’s Circle for Club de Madrid, the largest forum of former world leaders working to strengthen democracy, and is an Honorary President of Religion for Peace, the world’s largest organisation working on inter-religious challenges.

Steve Killelea, Honorary Graduate 2023

Charles Dacres – Outstanding Contribution Award

In recognition of their dedication to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Charles Dacres is an esteemed professional known for his exceptional achievements across various initiatives. Currently serving as the Director of the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance (BHCA), he assumes the crucial responsibility of establishing a robust partnership to address hate crime and hate crime reporting throughout the district.  

Throughout his career, Charles has amassed significant experience working alongside Local Authorities, specialising in educational and learning approaches to equality, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. His leadership has been instrumental in guiding and advising those responsible for ensuring equitable and fair service delivery. As co-chair of Active Bradford, he collaborates with agencies across the district to promote physical activity and sports. Through his relentless efforts, Charles advocates for and influences physical activity and sports initiatives, fostering a wide range of work by partners and stakeholders. 

As the chair of the Bradford Safe Task Force, Charles assumes a crucial position overseeing effective resource management for evidence-based interventions targeting the educational risk factors that can draw young people, particularly those aged between 13 and 15, into organised crime.  

Charles also serves as a Director and trustee of the Morrisons Foundation Trust. As one of seven trustees, he plays a pivotal role in setting the Foundation's direction and ensuring its charitable objectives are met. The Morrisons Foundation is dedicated to supporting local charities that have a positive impact on communities. 

Recognised for his exceptional leadership, Charles spearheaded the Windrush commemoration events in Bradford. Through his diligent efforts, the Windrush flag was raised in over 30 prominent cities nationwide, including notable landmarks such as the Home Office building and the Houses of Parliament. These events were designed to highlight and honour the significant contributions of the African Caribbean community in rebuilding Great Britain after World War II. 

With an impressive track record spanning numerous initiatives, Charles is widely respected for his leadership and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of individuals within the Bradford district.  

Charles Dacres, Outstanding Contribution Awardee 2023

Richard Shaw – Doctor of the University

In recognition of their significant commitment and passion for the performing arts and culture in the community.

Richard Shaw is an arts and media professional with a strong track record in public engagement, management, and leadership roles at some of the UK’s leading cultural and media organisations.   

His experience spans the performing arts, film and broadcasting and leadership roles, managing complex stakeholder environments in the public and commercial sectors and in not-for-profit organisations including Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture, British Film Institute, Lion Television, Royal Opera House, National Theatre and English National Ballet. 

His background includes strategic, campaign and digital marketing, brand development, public engagement venue operations, stakeholder management, local & national media relations, business planning, Government relations, capital projects and sustainable revenue-growth.   

In 2019 (following the completion of a major capital refurbishment programme at BFI Southbank) he moved to West Yorkshire to lead Bradford’s successful bid to become UK City of Culture 2025.  

Richard Shaw, Honorary Graduate 2023

Jabbar Sardar - Doctor of the University

In recognition of their outstanding contribution to the awareness of Inclusion and Diversity through their professional life and beyond the remit of their role and as an alumnus who had achieved significant levels of success in their chosen field.

Jabbar Sardar is Global HR director for BBC Studios, the commercial subsidiary of the BBC that combines the strengths of the UK’s most awarded-production company with a world class distributor.  

As Global HR Director, he is responsible for all HR activity for the company’s 6,000 staff and freelancers across 16 countries. He joined the BBC in January 2016 and reports into the BBC Studios CEO and BBC Group HRD. Jabbar is a member of the BBC Studios Executive Team, a member of the pan-BBC HR Leadership Team and the Chair of the BBC Studios Pay Committee.  

Jabbar joined the BBC from Cafcass, where he was Director of HR and OD and led an agenda of total organisational and cultural change, culminating in 2014 when Cafcass was assessed by Ofsted as ‘Good with Outstanding Leadership.’ Before Cafcass, he was a senior HR professional within a number of large public sector organisations.    

Jabbar has been the Chair of the International Advisory Board at the School of Management at the University of Bradford since 2017.  He is currently Deputy Chair of Trustees for Citizens Advice. 

Jabbar also holds an MBA from the University of Bradford. 

Jabbar Sardar, Honorary Graduate 2023

Nazim Ali – Outstanding Contribution Award

In recognition of their significant dedication to charity, fundraising and humanitarian work in Bradford and internationally.’ 

Nazim Ali is a prolific award-winning community activist and humanitarian who has relentlessly for almost 26 years dedicated most of his life thus far to improving the lives of those less fortunate which has been well documented in the media. He has raised just over £750,000 for charitable causes both in the UK and overseas. This has included running Ramadan 10K Runs whilst fasting for the last 10 years and is known in the media as the ‘Ramadan Runner’. He has been on over a dozen self-funded humanitarian aid trips around the world and has built over 250 new 2 room homes for the poor in Malawi, Syria, Pakistan and Uganda.  

For the last 9 ½ years every Thursday evening he has volunteered at the Bradford Curry Circle Food Project providing warm 2 course meals to the homeless and needy which he continued even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nazim is also the Founder and Co-ordinator of the ‘Creating Smiles Gifts Initiative’ where, he has provided thousands of pounds worth of gifts through his sponsor, Bradford-based Saveco Cash & Carry to poorly children at Bradford Royal Infirmary and Airedale Hospital Childrens Wards.

Nazim hails from the Manningham area of Bradford and was the first in his family to go to University. In 2002 he graduated with a BSc (Hons) in History and Politics from the University of Bradford and in 2006 with a MSc in Management from the University of York.  

Nazim has received several local and national awards including in 2019 receiving the much-coveted British Citizens Awards - Service to Community Medal in Westminster. 

Nazim Ali, Outstanding Contribution Awardee 2023

Professor Akaneren Idem Essien – Doctor of Education

In recognition of their transformational leadership and dedication to higher education in Nigeria, and for their contributions to setting up a network of Universities in Nigeria for the University of Bradford to work with.

Professor Akaneren Idem Essien is a Professor of Animal Science at the Akwa Ibom State University, Obio Akpa campus, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Animal Science, FNSAP, and two-term Member of Council of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science.  

In his 39 years in the Nigerian University System, Professor Essien has served creditably in various capacities, rising through the ranks in teaching, research and community service, leading to his appointment as Vice-Chancellor, University of Uyo, Nigeria in 2005. His tenure as Vice-Chancellor witnessed the turning around of the fortunes of the University for the better, in so many ways leaving a legacy of monumental development in academic and research infrastructures, and human resource development. 

Professor Essien, from 2011 to 2017 served thereafter as a Visiting Scholar in the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja, the regulatory body that oversee the activities of Nigerian Universities. He was appointed Chairman of the NUC Standing Committee on Private Universities (2012-2017) during which he made outstanding contributions in the modalities that were used for the evaluation and licensing of Private Universities in Nigeria. Twenty-two new Private Universities were established during this period. 

He is currently the Pro-Chancellor of Topfaith University, Mkpatak, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, a fast-developing Private University in Nigeria, that will be exploring academic collaboration with the University of Bradford in Engineering and Nursing Sciences. 

He successfully served as the Chairman of the Planning and Implementation Committee of the recently Nigerian Government established Private University, Amadeus University, Amizi, Abia State, Nigeria (2019-2023). Professor Essien’s role as Chairman of the Federal Government of Nigeria-appointed Visitation Panels to some Tertiary Institutions in the country produced far-reaching positive reorganization in those Institutions. 

In addition to Professor Essien’s public service in the Nigerian University System, his on-going research thrust at the Postgraduate level, as a Professor of Animal Science is the intensification of the biochemical and nutritional evaluation and utilisation of some agricultural wastes as feed energy and protein sources for increased egg and meat production in parts of Southern Nigeria.  

In recognition of his outstanding public service performance to Nigeria, the Federal Government conferred on him, National Honours in the category of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in October 2022. 

Professor Akaneren Essien, Honorary Graduate 2023

Professor Mahendra Gulabbhai Patel OBE – Doctor of Health

In recognition of their significant impact as a world class researcher in the field of Pharmacy, commitment to promotion of Equality Diversity and Inclusion and as an alumnus of the University of Bradford.

Professor Mahendra Gulabbhai Patel is a multi-award-winning pharmacist with professorial roles at UK universities and overseas. He is a Patron of the Commonwealth Pharmacy Association and a Teaching and Faculty Member of UNESCO listed in the HSJ 50 most Influential BAME people in Health in 2022. 

Mahendra gained his PhD at the University of Bradford exploring prescribing variations and health inequalities. His subsequent work with the British Heart Foundation led to developing a national educational toolkit promoting healthy hearts, which won the BMA Patient Information Award.  

Mahendra’s pioneering work with NICE creating Student Champions became a national programme in forty universities. He is one of the first to gain a fellowship at NICE.  

Mahendra is a founding member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and formerly its treasurer, where he was awarded a fellowship and later its prestigious President’s Charter Award for outstanding services to pharmacy. He is also a founding member and trustee of the Mouth Cancer Foundation supporting early detection of mouth cancer. 

Mahendra, a veteran of the South Health Asian Foundation, helped develop a suite of resources for diabetes and cardiovascular disease supporting South Asian communities and was central to the team which won the BMJ Team Diabetes Awards. 

Mahendra is a national lead at the University of Oxford supporting recruitment to clinical trials to be inclusive and representative and has now established the Centre for Research Equity at Oxford in the first of its kind.  

Internationally, Mahendra has worked extensively in promoting pharmacy education and antibiotic guardianship. In India, he became the first International Fellow of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association, and in Lebanon he was made International Honorary Ambassador by Order of Lebanese Pharmacists.  

Mahendra is highly active in promoting inclusion and diversity within the NHS and received the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Outstanding Service Award.  

Mahendra was made Officer of the British Empire for services to Pharmacy in 2022. 

Professor Mahendra Patel, Honorary Graduate 2023

Professor Shahina Pardhan – Doctor of Health


In recognition of their significant impact as a world class researcher in the field of Optometry and their commitment to promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Professor Shahina Pardhan graduated with a First Class BSc in Optometry and PhD in optometry from University of Bradford. She was appointed as the first female professor of Optometry in the UK (2001). Professor Pardhan is a recipient of the Asian Women of Achievement Award - Professions category (2001), Asian Jewel Award - Health Care and Education category (2005), Research Excellence Award (The Arthur Bennett Prize for outstanding research undertaken anywhere in the world) by the College of Optometrists (2022). She is also listed in the World Top 2% Scientists List published by Stanford University in 2022. 

Professor Pardhan is the Director of world leading Vision and Eye Research Institute, and Director of Centre for Inclusive Community Eye Health, based within the School of Medicine at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. She has authored over 200 peer-reviewed research papers including 12 papers in the prestigious journal ‘The Lancet’ and has found innovative ways to translate her research findings into interventions that have reduced heath inequality and improved the outcomes of people who are underserved and are at high risk of blindness. This has included developing culturally and linguistically appropriate diabetic awareness videos and information material for people of Asian origin, which have benefitted over 125,000 people not just in the UK but also in Nepal, Thailand, China, and India. She has extended that work to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Mexico'.  

Professor Pardhan leads the leadership portfolio for Women in Vision UK and was named as a Champion for Change in the Ophthalmologist’s Power list in 2019, one of 10 people in the world named as such.  She is profiled as a role model- constantly featured in the College of Optometrists website every year on International Women’s Day. She has written invited editorials including ‘Breaking the glass ceiling in Academia’ and podcasts to support women in their career progression. 

Professor Pardhan served as sub- panel member for national Research Excellence Framework for Allied Health REF2021 and is also a trustee of two charities, ‘Visionary’ and ‘One World One People’. In 2001, she led a group of optometrists to remote parts of north Pakistan to carry out eye tests and provide spectacles to people, some of whom had been blind for many years. She recalls this as the most rewarding experience of her life.  She is a proud alumna of the University of Bradford.

Professor Shahina Pardhan, Honorary Graduate 2023

Alan J. Banks – Doctor of Engineering

In recognition of their leadership and innovation within the engineering industry and as an alumnus who has achieved significant levels of success in their chosen field.

Alan Banks is the Lightweight Structures Manager at Ford Motor Company. He started work at Ford in 1983 and leads projects with light-weighting technologies with mass production capability. 

He led the Composite Lightweight Automotive Suspension System (CLASS) project, which won the 2018 JEC World Automotive Application Innovation award and the Composite UK Innovation Award winning Composite Hybrid Automotive Suspension System Innovative Structures (CHASSIS) & Electrified Structural Hybrid Automotive Designs for Optimised Weight (eSHADOW) projects. 

Alan has a First-Class Honours Degree and MSc from the University of Bradford, is a Fellow and Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Engineering Technology and a Fellow of the Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange and a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers. He is Chairman of the Board for the Composites UK Trade Association and Chairman of the Vehicular Composites Group and Chairs the Lightweighting UK Auto Council Strategy Group. 

Alan Banks, Honorary Graduate 2023

Previous Honorary Graduates

Nominations for Honorary Awards

Nominations for honorary degrees and fellowships can be submitted at any time and are considered by the University Honorary Awards Committee twice each year. 

You can read the Honorary Awards Policy and submit your nomination.