Keele announces honorary graduates 2019

Eight distinguished individuals from fields including science, culture and entrepreneurship will be honoured at Keele’s graduation ceremonies this summer.

An Oscar-winner, an equality and diversity campaigner, and a renowned professor of engineering are among those who will receive an honorary degree at this year’s ceremonies, alongside over 2,000 students who will be celebrating their own achievements.

This year’s honorary graduates have been chosen once again to honour their outstanding contributions to society in fields such as social justice, educational support for disabilities in children, and environmental and ecological research.

Actor Rachel Shenton will receive an honorary degree for her outstanding contribution in raising awareness for educational support for disabilities in children. Rachel, whose short film The Silent Child won an Oscar, is an advocate for deaf awareness and campaigns for equal opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people.

Among those being honoured is Ralph Findlay, the former Pro-Chancellor of Keele University and Chair of Council between 2014-18. Mr Findlay, who is also Chief Executive of Marston’s PLC, will receive an honorary degree for his outstanding contribution to the University during his time in both of these roles.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, said: “All of our honorary graduates have made outstanding contributions to their respective fields and we are very proud to celebrate their achievements alongside those of our students. I look forward to joining them at the official ceremonies in July to mark their accomplishments and welcome them to the Keele community.”

Honorary degree recipients

Ralph Findlay
Ralph studied Geology at Edinburgh University, and worked as an exploration geologist before joining Price Waterhouse and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1988, specialising in financial services. In 1994 he joined W&DB (now Marston’s PLC) and was appointed to the Board as Finance Director in 1996, becoming Chief Executive in 2001. Until recently, he was also Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council of Keele University.

David Pearson
David has 45 years’ experience of working within the NHS and was made an MBE for services to Staffordshire’s Mental Health services in 2010. David has also held the title of Clinical Lecturer in Mental Health at Keele University, and his close working relationship with the University throughout his career has enabled significant improvements in Nursing and Clinical Education and outcomes for patients.

Pragna Patel
Pragna is a founding member of Southall Black Sisters, a non-government organisation based in West London that supports black and minority women. She has nearly 40 years of experience of working to tackle violence against women in black and minority communities and has been at the forefront of key campaigning milestones in the history of black and minority women’s struggles for justice in the UK. She is also a member of the online journal Feminist Dissent and has written extensively on race, gender and religion.

Rachel Shenton
Rachel is an Academy Award-winning writer and actor, who started her career at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where her controversial play received critical acclaim. Her screenplay debut, The Silent Child, won an Oscar in 2018 for Best Live Action Short Film and told the story of a deaf girl who is taught sign language. Rachel also campaigns for equal opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people, and as a proud ambassador of the National Deaf Children’s Society and local charity DeafLinks she has been raising awareness for well over a decade.

Steve Jackson
Keele University alumnus Steve worked alongside his business partner to turn his childhood love of board games into a career that has seen him become one of Britain’s most innovative and successful games developers and entrepreneurs. Together they produced a game “fanzine” in 1975 and secured exclusive European distribution rights to the then-new Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-play game. Steve is also the co-founder of the Games Workshop chain, as well as the co-founder of video game developer Lionhead Studios, which was bought by Microsoft in 2006. He is a Professor of Games Design at Brunel University, having played a key role in developing their Masters programme in Digital Games Theory and Design.

Rebecca Murray
Rebecca founded the Article 26 project in 2008 and acted as Director until 2018. The project worked in partnership with UK universities to create scholarships for forced migrants and asylum seekers, and has been integrated into Universities of Sanctuary. Rebecca continues her involvement as a member of the steering committee, and was also employed by Save the Children for over 10 years, where she specialised in research, advocacy and practice with displaced young people and those experiencing severe and persistent poverty.

Jacqueline McGlade
Jacqueline is Professor in the Institute for Global Prosperity and Engineering, University College London; Gresham College Professor of the Environment; and Professor at Maasai Mara University, Kenya. For 40 years, she has been working at the interface of sustainable development, science policy and diplomacy, pioneering open access to data and information. She is a leading expert on ecosystem dynamics, informatics and earth observations, community science, and decision-making under high uncertainty. She has also published more than 200 research publications and produced award-winning films and radio series.

Joining the College of Fellows

Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail
Professor Ismail currently serves as the first female Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Universiti Sains Malaysia and was the first female VC of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia in 2012, making her the first woman to be appointed twice as the VC of a public university. She served as the country’s first female Director-General of Higher Education and is currently the first female President of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. Her contributions to higher education in Malaysia include the establishment of the prestigious National Academic Award, the establishment of Research Universities in Malaysia and also in co-helming the development and implementation of The Malaysian Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2013-2025.