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University honours seven at graduations


The University of Bradford will honour seven national and international figures with honorary degrees at its forthcoming graduation ceremonies.

They include leading businessmen and women and philanthropists, the leader of the world’s largest development organisation, a top mathematician, a nurse honoured by the United Nations and a comedian.

The take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, July 12, 13 and 14, in the Great Hall of the city campus, where Chancellor Kate Swann and Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Cantor will present the honorary degrees.

Receiving honorary degrees from the University will be:

Kevin Gaskell - Doctor of the University

Kevin, a graduate of the University of Bradford, built his career in the construction, chemical and automotive industries.

Appointed Managing Director of Porsche GB, his team turned a failing business into the UK’s most profitable car company. After returning Lamborghini GB to profitability he led BMW UK to a 500% increase in profitability.

In 2000 he left BMW to found technology company epyx Limited. From 2001 – 2007 he was CEO of EurotaxGlass’s in Switzerland, leading a €500 million sale of the company. He now acts as chairman to early stage companies. He has played international cricket. With his son he has walked to both the North and South Poles and climbed some of the world’s highest mountains to raise funds for cancer research.

Paul Donovan – Doctor of the University

Paul is currently CEO of ODEON UCI Cinemas, the leading European cinema operator. He is also Director of Upstream S.A., a mobile e-commerce solutions provider. His earlier career was spent in the fast moving consumer goods industry before transferring to the technology sector where he worked for Apple and BT Cable and Wireless. He joined Vodafone in 1999, and was a member of Vodafone’s Executive Committee from 2004. He was director and CEO of Eircom, Ireland’s leading telecommunications company from 2009 to 2012.

Mr Donovan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Scandinavian Studies from University College London and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Bradford.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed – Doctor of Education

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed was born in 1936 in Bangladesh. He was working at Shell Oil when the 1971 Liberation War changed his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh’s war of independence.

Returning to Bangladesh, he established BRAC to rehabilitate refugees, helping develop their capacity to manage their lives. BRAC became the largest development organisation in the world.

BRAC University equips students with the knowledge and skills to address contemporary and future challenges, based on the conviction that education and training are forces for positive change.

He was knighted in recognition of his services to reducing poverty and in 2014 was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.

Dame Stephanie Shirley – Doctor of Science

Dame Stephanie Shirley came to this country as an unaccompanied child refugee in 1939. Whilst working for the Post Office Research Station, she took a maths degree at evening classes.

She founded a software company in 1962 as a company of women for women, an early social business.

Equal Opportunities legislation made her pro-female policies illegal and the company became more balanced. She took it into co-ownership and staff owned a quarter of the company when it floated in 1996. It employed 8,500 staff when it was acquired in 2007.

She was the first woman President of the British Computer Society. Post retirement, her philanthropy is focused on IT and autism (her late son’s disorder), giving away £67 million to date.

Professor Robin Wilson – Doctor of Education

Robin Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, Emeritus Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, and a former Fellow of Keble College, Oxford University. He is a former President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, and was formerly Chair of the European Mathematical Society’s Committee on Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics.

He has written and edited over forty books, both popular and specialised, including Introduction to Graph Theory, Four Colours Suffice, Lewis Carroll in Numberland, and a book on mathematics and music.

He has given 1500 lectures to audiences around the world popularising mathematics and its history. He was awarded the Mathematical Association of America’s Lester Ford award and Pólya prize for his ‘outstanding expository writing’.

Professor Wilson is the son of former Prime Minister and the first Chancellor of the University Harold Wilson.

Cecilia Anim – Doctor of Health

Cecilia is President of the Royal College of Nursing. She is a member of the Council Executive Team, Membership and Representation Committee, International Committee, Ethics Committee and Awards Panel.

She served on the Ethics Forum Steering Committee and was a member of the RCN Menopause Nurses Steering Group.

She was awarded the RCN Certificate of Merit for outstanding service to members, the Bevan award for Health and Wellbeing, the Wise Woman of the Year Award, and the United Nations African Women of Excellence award.

Cecilia trained as a midwife in Ghana, before moving to the UK and qualifying as a nurse. She works as a clinical nurse specialist in sexual and reproductive health at the Margaret Pyke Centre in London.

Francesca Martinez - Doctor of the University

Francesca is a stand-up comedian, speaker, actor, and author, with her book, What the **** is Normal?!, receiving critical acclaim. She has turned her experiences of living with mild cerebral palsy, or being a bit ‘wobbly’ as she describes it, into award-winning comedy. She is the first female comedian to win the prestigious Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has performed sell-out shows and given inspirational talks around the world. Francesca uses her public profile to raise issues about disability and human rights and was nominated ‘Hero of the Year’ at the European Diversity Awards (2014).

Note: if you would like to arrange an interview with any of the honorary graduates please contact the communications team on 01274 236030.

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