Keele announces honorary graduates for summer ceremonies
Honorary degrees will be awarded to three individuals to commend their immense achievements in the fields of history, social inclusion, and academic research.
The honorary doctorates will be conferred at Keele’s summer graduation ceremonies this July, where thousands of Keele students will also be celebrated for their academic achievements.
This year’s honours will be given to David Sweeney CBE, the former Executive Chair of Research England; Godefroid Seminega, a charity stalwart who works with refugees in the local area; and Dr Tristram Hunt, the former MP and Director of the world-renowned V&A museum.
Professor Trevor McMillan OBE, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, said: “It’s always a pleasure to welcome such distinguished individuals as these to the Keele community, and to celebrate their lives’ work and achievements alongside those of our graduating students. I’m particularly pleased that this year’s honorary degree recipients are ones that have such strong connections to our local area, and I look forward to standing alongside them in the Chapel this summer.”
Honorary degree recipients – Summer 2023
Godefroid fled his homeland of Rwanda when he was 36 years old, seeking asylum in the UK. He found himself destitute on the streets of London, having left behind his family, friends, and a dream job as Public Health advisor. He initially stayed in an overcrowded hotel for asylum seekers in Croydon navigating a hostile environment and policies, and the difficult legal process of claiming asylum. He was granted refugee status after two months, but the experience had a lasting effect on him and led him to campaign for reform to the rules affecting asylum seekers.
In 2004 he moved to Stoke-on-Trent to work for a primary care trust, before co-founding an asylum community support group which eventually became Asha, North Staffordshire, which has been running for 19 years. With Godefroid as service manager, the charity has expanded its services and now supports nearly 1,000 asylum seekers every year including men, women and children. The charity’s centre in Shelton is a hub of community action offering a variety of services and support to more than 350 asylum seekers and refugees at any one time, six days a week. Asha also provides community placements for students from educational establishments across North Staffordshire including medical students from Keele University, and those learning to teach English as a second language.
Dr Tristram Hunt
Dr Tristram Hunt is Director of the V&A - the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. Since taking up the post in 2017, he has championed design education in UK schools, encouraged debate around the history of the museum’s global collections, and overseen the transition to a multi-site museum, with the opening of V&A Dundee, the creation of Young V&A (formerly V&A Museum of Childhood), and the development of V&A East - a new museum and open access collections centre in Stratford, East London.
Prior to joining the V&A, he was Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent Central (2010-2017) and Shadow Secretary of State for Education (2013-2015). Between 2001-2010, he combined his post as Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London, with work as a history broadcaster, presenting a range of radio and television programmes for the BBC and Channel 4. Dr Hunt has a doctorate in Victorian history from Cambridge University (1995) and he is the author of several books, including Ten Cities That Made an Empire (2014), The Lives of the Objects (2019) telling the story of the V&A collection, and The Radical Potter: Josiah Wedgwood and the Transformation of Britain (2021).
David Sweeney CBE
David Sweeney CBE was the founding Executive Chair of Research England, the agency responsible for creating and sustaining the conditions for a healthy and dynamic research and knowledge exchange system in English universities. He stepped down in 2022, the same year he received a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
After gaining First Class Honours in Statistics at the University of Aberdeen, David worked at two BBSRC research institutes as a consultant statistician, and then developing mathematical models of plant growth. His work on the computational aspects of this led to broader applications of IT in education and research. He was Director of Information Services at Royal Holloway, University of London, before moving into university leadership as Vice-Principal (Communications, Enterprise and Research) in 2004, when he was responsible for research strategy and for developing Royal Holloway’s research-led commercial and consultancy activities.
He joined HEFCE in 2008 as Director (Research, Innovation and Skills) and led the development and implementation of the first Research Excellence Framework including the new impact agenda element. He was also responsible for research policy and funding, knowledge exchange and university/business relations. David has four children, the eldest being a double Keele graduate. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from his alma mater in 2012, was Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Newcastle, NSW in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.
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