Honorary Graduates Datuk Professor Dr Asma Ismail, PhD and Ros Kerslake, OBE

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Posted on 14 July 2017

In recognition of their outstanding contributions to society, both globally and within the UK, Datuk Professor Dr Asma Ismail, PhD and Ros Kerslake OBE have been awarded Honorary Degrees.

For her distinguished national and international career in research and senior management in education, and as a distinctive role model for women, Professor Asma Ismail has been awarded Doctor of the University.

Speaking about her international career, Professor Ismail commented:

“It’s important to have an international perspective whatever career you go into. Today the world is borderless, it’s so important that students know about how other people live, and what kind of culture and economy they have.”

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Professor Ismail currently serves as the first woman Vice-Chancellor at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). She was the country’s first woman Director-General of Higher Education and is currently the first woman President of Academy of Sciences Malaysia (2016-2019).

Reflecting on being a role model for women, Professor Ismail said:

“In Malaysia there are not many women scientists as role models. It’s important for me to break as many glass ceilings as possible - not about my own success, but to be able to bring in more women, so that they can compete. It’s about trying to see as many women as possible, and to tell them - if I can make it, so can they - nothing is impossible. There's a lot of hard work and perseverance, but if you have the dream, it can be done.


In recognition of her outstanding contribution as a strategic leader in philanthropy and local urban regeneration, Ros Kerslake OBE has been awarded Doctor of the University.

Speaking about her award, Ros, who has a degree in Law and Psychology from Keele, said:

“It’s fabulous to be coming back here today to be receiving an honorary doctorate. It’s an enormous honour to come back and see how fantastic Keele looks, and to be recognised in this way.”

Ros Kerslake is currently Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund. In 2006 Ros was appointed as first CEO of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust and over the next ten years established it as a leading heritage-led regeneration charity. In 2016 Ros was awarded an OBE for services to British heritage.

Ros commented:

“Universities are really extraordinary institutions; they have so much knowledge, across such a wide range of areas, so their ability to engage in a local area is huge. Certainly when I was working in this area putting together a project I was really pleased with the level of support I got both from Keele University and Staffordshire University.”

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“When you leave university, most people haven't got a clear plan of where they’re going to go. If you’ve just graduated, you’ve done three or four years of really hard work - take a break, take a rest - don't feel you've got to rush into something. And be willing to take a chance - not many of us can plan a perfect career, so it is very much about seizing things as they come along.”

Reflecting on her time at Keele as a student, Ros said:

“I was very lucky to study here when Keele did the introductory first year - which gave me the opportunity to learn about all sorts of things, and then I went on from that to still do a wide range of subjects.”

“I think Keele has always valued breadth, and valued people who were open thinkers. That ability to know about a lot of different things, and bring a little bit of knowledge to a lot of different situations, has really formed me in the way I’ve gone about my career.”

Ros Kerslake, OBE

Datuk Professor Dr Asma Ismail, PhD