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Our honorary graduates

We award honorary degrees to inspiring individuals who have achieved great feats in their fields.

Honorary degrees awarded in 2023

Dr Ewan Kirk - Doctor of Science

Ewan is a technology entrepreneur and Founder of Cantab Capital Partners. For over 30 years, he has led multiple ventures to commercialise, apply and leverage technology and mathematics research in both business and philanthropy.

In 2006, he founded Cantab Capital Partners, a science-driven investment management firm, which was one of the top-performing quantitative investment companies in the UK. The business grew to 60 people with over £4.5bn AUM, before the business was acquired by GAM Investments in 2016.

Prior to founding Cantab, Ewan was Partner and Head of Quantitative Strategies Group at Goldman Sachs for 13 years, leading the firm’s 120-strong European team of mathematicians, scientists, and statisticians.

Ewan is also Chair of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, a non-executive director of BAE Systems, Chairman of DeepTech Labs, a UK-based venture capital fund that invests in deep technology businesses, the Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences and Co-Chair of the Turner Kirk Trust.

He holds a PhD in General Relativity from the University of Southampton, a MASt in Mathematics from Queen’s College, Cambridge, and a BSc in Natural Philosophy and Astronomy from the University of Glasgow.

Professor Stephen Duckworth OBE DSc FKC PhD LRCP MRCS MSc FDSRCS(Hon) - Doctor of Science

Stephen originally studied as a medical student at Guy’s Hospital, however, he had to pause his studies after breaking his neck in a rugby accident, aged 21. He subsequently qualified as a doctor and completed an MSc and PhD in rehabilitation and disability studies at the University of Southampton.

Having run his own business for 20 years, he moved to London to work for two large FTSE companies. From 1998–2006, he was a Council Member of the University of Southampton, and from 2006–2012, he was a Board Member of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which built the venues for London 2012.

Stephen has been a trustee of numerous charities including Motability, which provides vehicles for 680,000 disabled people, and Leonard Cheshire, which provides care homes for 3,000 disabled people.

He is currently a board member of Network Rail, The Palace of Westminster Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Stephen is the Vice-Chair of the Rugby Football Union Injured Players Foundation. He has an international reputation for his work in improving the life chances of disabled people. Stephen is married to Rose, and they have four adult sons.

Christine McGrath - Fellow

Christine is the inaugural Managing Director of Wessex Health Partners, the Wessex region’s partnership of leading academic institutions and NHS organisations accelerating better health and care through research, innovation and training.

A nursing graduate, Christine completed her Masters by Research with the University of Bristol before moving to University Hospital Southampton, where she has dedicated nearly 20 years to the University of Southampton, Hospital partnership.

Working with University colleagues, Christine’s inspirational leadership has led to Southampton’s research being internationally recognised as world leading, securing significant prestigious multi-million pound awards and delivering world-leading advances in health, including the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a highly respected senior leader, Christine’s work includes advising government and industry bodies including the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, the National Institute of Health Research, the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry and Royal Colleges.

In 2017, Christine was appointed to the Ministerial Industry Steering Group for Commercial Research and founded UKRD, a unique community of expertise and influence representing senior research leaders in the NHS.

Gill Rider - Doctor of Science

After leaving the University of Southampton with a PhD in botany, Gill has spent a varied career working in both the private and public sectors.

For most of her career, Gill held operational and executive management responsibilities in Accenture LLP.  She worked in many countries and industry sectors.  She was a global executive committee member of Accenture from 1999 to 2006, before spending five years as Director General in the Cabinet Office as Head of the Civil Service Capability Group.

She is a past President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and was the Chair of Council and a pro-chancellor of the University of Southampton.  She was awarded a CBE in Queen Elizabeth II’s 2011 Birthday Honours.

Today Gill continues to enjoy a portfolio career.  She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Pennon plc and a non-executive director of Intertek, where she chairs the remuneration committee. She is also the President of the Marine Biological Association.

Outside work, she lives on Dartmoor with husband David and enjoys walking the dogs, visits with friends, Formula 1, gardening, camper van trips and the occasional opera.

Juliet Fraser - Doctor of Music

Soprano Juliet specialises in the gnarly edges of contemporary classical music.

A graduate of Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, she began her career singing with renowned British choirs such as Polyphony, Tenebrae, the BBC Singers and the Monteverdi Choir, and was a member of Collegium Vocale Gent, directed by Philippe Herreweghe.

While still at university she founded EXAUDI vocal ensemble with composer/conductor James Weeks and remains a core member of the group. Now recognised as one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary music, Juliet maintains a busy schedule performing at classical and experimental music festivals around the world.

She is an active commissioner of new repertoire and has worked particularly closely with composers Laurence Crane, Pascale Criton, Michael Finnissy, Cassandra Miller and Rebecca Saunders.

Juliet is Co-Director of all that dust, a little independent label for new music, and Founder and Artistic Director of the eavesdropping festival in East London. This year she launches VOICEBOX, a bespoke training programme for singers wanting to specialise in contemporary vocal performance.

She was the recipient of a Hartley Residency at Southampton in 2019, which kickstarted a passion for writing about the whole merry business of performing new music.

Rt Hon Justine Greening - Doctor of Law

Justine was the first person in her family to go to university – the University of Southampton – where she studied Business Economics and Accounting.

After a career in industry, Justine became Member of Parliament for Putney. Between 2011 and 2018, Justine served as a UK Cabinet Minister, including as the first-ever comprehensive school-educated Education Secretary, from 2016–18.

Justine put social mobility at the heart of the Department for Education’s strategy through the Social Mobility Action Plan, alongside introducing Opportunity Areas, and Gender Pay Gap reporting. She left Cabinet and Parliament to fully focus on her Social Mobility Pledge campaign mobilising the private and public sectors to work together to drive grassroots change, with the University of Southampton playing a key part of that work.

Dr Margaret Leinen - Doctor of Science

Margaret is the Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice-Chancellor for Marine Science of University of California at San Diego.

She is an ocean biogeochemist and paleoceanographer whose research includes study of ocean carbon cycling and the role of the oceans in climate.

Margaret is currently co-chair for the Decade Advisory Board for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. During 2017 and 2018 she was a US Department of State Science Envoy for the oceans to Latin America and the Pacific. She served as Assistant Director for Geosciences, US National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2000–2007.

She has also served as the President of the American Geophysical Union, President of The Oceanography Society and Chair of the AAAS Section on Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Science. Margaret is a Fellow of all three societies and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Rogier Sanders - Doctor of Science

Rogier is currently Professor of Virology, specialising in experimental vaccinology, at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam and holds an affiliate faculty position at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City where he spends part of his time.

His research focuses on viral glycoprotein vaccines, in particular those based on native-like trimers. Several of Rogier’s HIV-1 envelope trimers are now in phase I clinical trials as candidate vaccines and Rogier’s proline stabilisation of HIV-1 envelope trimers has inspired COVID-19 vaccines currently in use worldwide.

Rogier studied Medical Biology at the University of Amsterdam and The Rockefeller University in New York. In 2004 he obtained his PhD from the University of Amsterdam.

He has received several prestigious grants such as the Veni, Vidi and Vici grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and a Starting Investigator grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

He leads and/or participates in various research consortia funded by the EU, NIH/NIAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Rogier has (co-)authored more than 250 scientific articles, published in journals such as Nature, Science and Cell.

In 2011, he received the Dutch Prize for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In a top-10 list of “Hottest authors” in HIV/AIDS research 2013–2015, compiled by Thomson Reuters, Rogier shared the top position.

Will Champion - Doctor of Music

Will Champion is a musician, composer and actor. A multi-instrumentalist, Will is best known for playing drums and backing vocals with the multi-award-winning band, Coldplay. As a founding member of Coldplay, Will has enjoyed almost unparalleled success. From the group’s first album, Parachutes in 2000, to their latest release, Music of the Spheres (released in 2021), Will and the band have sold over 100 million albums; won over 250 awards, including eight Brit Awards and seven Grammy Awards; and toured extensively worldwide.

Will grew up in Southampton and was always immersed in music. He attended Portswood Primary and Cantell Secondary schools – both within a stone’s throw of the University. He took lessons on violin, guitar and piano and then, while at Cantell, played drums in the jazz band. Both of Will’s parents were archaeology academics at the University and his exposure to the Nuffield Theatre and Turner Sims concert hall influenced him heavily during his childhood.

Will completed a degree in Anthropology at University College London. It was during his time at university that he met Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, and Guy Berryman and became the band’s drummer. As a musician and as a person, Will inspires many – both young and established – within the city of Southampton and, of course, here at the University, who know his story.

Honorary degrees awarded in 2022

Professor Derrick Swartz - Doctor of Letters

Derrick Swartz is a science advisor, higher education leader and democratic activist in South Africa. He is currently serving as Special Advisor to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, working on ‘grand challenges’ in climate change, renewable energy, health, food sovereignty and sustainability economic development.

He is a development sociologist by training, having studied in SA and the UK, with Masters and Doctoral degrees in sociology of development from Essex University, from which he also received an Honorary Doctorate in Human Rights Law (2008).

He served as Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University (2008-2018) and the University of Fort Hare (1999-2007). In 2005, under his leadership the University of Fort Hare was awarded the Supreme Order of Boabab (Gold Class) in recognition of its distinguished service in higher education and leadership development for over a century.

In the pre-democracy period, he was a leading anti-apartheid activist and spent many years in exile, returning to South Africa after the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners in the early 1990’s. In SA, he was founding Director of the Institute of Government and Professor/Chair of Inter-Governmental Relations at the University of Fort Hare, advising on key issues of democratic governance and public sector reconstruction and development in mid-nineties.

He became South Africa’s youngest Vice-Chancellor in 1999 and campaigned for the democratization and transformation of higher education: promoting greater access to previously marginalized sections of society; deepening the involvement of universities in local community development; stimulating more diverse university-industry linkages; and harnessing novel technologies in promoting inclusive development of marginal communities in the face of technological disruption, globalization, climate change and loss of biodiversity.

Swartz is also an avid mountaineer, philanthropist and serves on numerous public and non-governmental Trusts committed to building a non-racial, socially-just and inclusive world.

Stefan Cross QC, Doctor of Letters

Stefan is recognised as one of the UK’s leading employment lawyers; his pioneering equal pay litigation has changed the legal landscape.

Stefan, a working- class boy on free school meals, graduated with a LLB Law degree from Southampton in 1982. After training in Bournemouth, he joined trade union solicitors Thompsons in Newcastle, took an LLM in employment law, pioneered claims for redundancy consultation, transfer of undertakings and multi-applicant claims, especially equal pay.

From 2003 to 2013 his own firm, Stefan Cross Solicitors, conducted more than 30,000 successful equal pay claims against more than 100 local authorities in England and Wales, directly and indirectly, recovering more than £2bn for low paid women and men.

Stefan set up Action 4 Equality Scotland Ltd in 2005 to pursue claims in Scotland. He has since been involved in more than 100,000 claims recovering more than £1.2bn leading to the Glasgow Women’s Equal Pay Strike in 2018.

In 2013, he was appointed as an Honorary Queen’s Counsel (QC) in recognition of his contribution to pay equality, one of only a small number of solicitors to be awarded this venerable distinction.

Stefan has maintained a close relationship with the University. In 2018, he launched The Stefan Cross Centre for Women, Equality and Law on Highfield Campus, designed to raise awareness of discrimination against women and girls, and investigate the causes of this discrimination.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Doctor of Science

CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering
CEO, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

Hayaatun has extensive leadership experience in UK and international engineering, innovation, and diversity and inclusion activities. She chairs the UK government’s Business Innovation Forum and the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment, and recently co-chaired with Sir Lewis Hamilton his Commission on improving Black representation in UK motorsport. She is a trustee of EngineeringUK and the Foundation for Science & Technology; a member of the UK government’s Levelling Up Advisory Council; a director of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK; and an advisor to accelerateHER and the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. She has been named as one of the ‘Inspiring 50 Women in Tech’ and one of the most influential women in engineering.

She has a Masters in Biochemistry (MBiochem) from Oxford and a PhD from Cancer Research UK/UCL. She is a Fellow of the IET and Honorary Professor at UCL and in 2021 received honorary degrees from UCL and Imperial College and won a Science Suffrage Award. She was made a CBE for services to International Engineering in 2019.

Prior to her current roles, she was Deputy CEO at the Academy and served as Committee Specialist and later Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond - Doctor of Science

DL FRSE FBA FAcSS

Professor Sir Ian Diamond has been, since August 2018, the National Statistician and Permanent Secretary of the Office for National Statistics. Prior to this role he was, from 2003-2010, Chief Executive of the Economic and Statistics Research Council, and from 2010 -2018, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen. These roles followed almost 23 years at the University of Southampton where he was, variously, Lecturer, Professor, Head of Social Statistics, Dean of Social Sciences and Deputy Vice Chancellor.

Ian is a passionate teacher and researcher who has worked on the analysis of large and complex data sets most notably in the area of population; and on census design and analysis. His research has crossed many disciplinary boundaries and he has worked with a number of government departments both in the UK and internationally.

He is currently chairing the Independent Commission for the Future of College Education and Plan International UK. He has also Chaired British Universities and Colleges Sport, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales and Edinburgh College of Further Education; and has been or is a board member of WWF UK, UK Research and Innovation, UCAS, Universities UK, Lancaster University and the Iona Cathedral Trust.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin CB ADC, Doctor of Law

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin is the professional head of the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces and principal military adviser to the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Defence.

He previously served as First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff from June 2019 until early November 2021, during which time he oversaw a full-scale transformation of the Royal Navy, instigated a renewed naval presence around the globe and secured an expanded shipbuilding programme.

Commissioned in 1990, he has served in numerous command and staff appointments, both ashore and afloat, and in command of UK and international forces. Operational tours have included the Iran/Iraq Tanker War, security duties in the Falklands, NATO operations in the Adriatic, countering smuggling in Hong Kong and the Caribbean, and three tours in Iraq – each in command.

A qualified barrister with an MA in International Relations and Defence Studies, he is a graduate of the Higher Command and Staff Course and the London Business School’s Senior Executive Programme, and various international courses, principally in America.

He lives in Hampshire with his wife and four sons, born between 1998 and 2005. He is president of the UK Armed Forces Tennis and Royal Navy Squash Associations, and Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy Sailing Association.

Honorary degrees awarded in previous years

View a selection of our honorary graduates from the 1960s to the present day.

2019

Dr Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Doctor of Science

Sir Anthony Seymour Laughton, FRS PhD, Doctor of Science

Mr Justin Urquhart Stewart, Doctor of Letters

The Rt. Hon Helen Clark ONZ SSI, Doctor of Letters

Baroness Claire Tyler, FAcSS, Doctor of Letters

2018

Professor Subra Suresh, Degree of Doctor of Science

Professor Lord Patel of Bradford, OBE, Degree of Doctor of Science

Professor Anthony Hey, CBE, FREng, FACM, FInstP, Degree of Doctor of Science

Dr Grahaeme Henderson, BScm PhD, Degree of Doctor of Science

Professor Dame Jane Francis, Degree of Doctor of Science

Dr Brian Robert Bowsher OBE, Degree of Doctor of Science

2017

Fiona Dalton, Doctor of Science

Professor John Shepherd, CBE, FRS, Doctor of Science

Professor Brian P. Schmidt, AC, FAA, FRS, Doctor of Science

Dr Sarah J. Caddick, PhD, Doctor of Science

Mr Steve Etches, MBE, Doctor of Science

The Honourable Mrs Justice Roberts, DBE, Doctor of Letters

2016

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, Honorary Doctor of Science

Stefan Buczacki, Honorary Doctor of Letters

Professor Zhu Chongshi, Honorary Doctor of Science

John Denham, Honorary Doctor of Science

Judith Gillow MBE, Honorary Doctor of Science

Datin Paduka Ir Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir, Honorary Doctor of Science

William McKee CBE, Honorary Doctor of Letters

Professor George Stevenson, Honorary Doctor of Science

2015

Professor Martin Goodman, Honorary Doctor of Letters

Baroness Martha Lane Fox, Honorary Doctor of Science

Rosalind Rivaz, Honorary Doctor of Science

Richard Sadler, Honorary Doctor of Science

Professor William Webb, Honorary Doctor of Science

2014

Dr Vanessa Lawrence CB, Doctor of Science

Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman, Doctor of Science

Professor Dominic Tildesley, Doctor of Science

Andrew Wolstenholme OBE, Doctor of Science

Admiral Sir George Zambellas KCB DSC ADC DL, Doctor of Science

2013

Chris Packham

Professor Zhong-Qun Tian

Dame Valerie Strachan

Stuart Popham

Baroness Rabbi Julia Neuberger DBE

Professor Richard Holdaway CBE

Professor John Craven

2012

Professor the Rt Hon Lord Plant of Highfield, Doctor of Laws

Professor David Phillips CBE, Doctor of Science

Deirdre Le Faye, Doctor of Letters

Sir George W. Buckley, Doctor of Science

Professor Cecil Balmond, Doctor of Science

2011

Professor Sir William Wakeham, Doctor of Science

Jon Sopel, Doctor of Laws

Sir Adrian Fulford, Doctor of Laws

Brian Eno, Doctor of Music

Dame Helen Alexander DBE

2010

Caroline Wyatt, Doctor of Letters

Courtney Pine OBE CBE, Doctor of Music

Professor Gwyneth Lewis OBE, Doctor of Science

Mona Hatoum, Doctor of Letters

Dr Stephen Deuchar CBE, Doctor of Letters

Shami Chakrabarti, Doctor of Letters

Professor Michael Arthur, Doctor of Letters

2009

Rosemary Squire OBE, Doctor of Letters

Sir Geoffrey Rowland, Doctor of Laws

Carol Marlow, Doctor of the University

Paul Lewis, Doctor of Music

Baroness Gloria Hooper CMG, Doctor of Laws

Professor Peter J Gregson, Doctor of Science

Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe CBE, Doctor of Letters

Professor Jun Chen, Doctor of Science

Jane Bown CBE, Doctor of Letters

2000s

Sir Alfred Brendel, Doctor of Music (2002)

James Cameron, Doctor of the University (2004)

Shami Chakrabarti, Doctor of Letters (2010)

Brian Eno, Doctor of Music (2011)

Sir Michael Gambon, Doctor of Letters (2003)

The Baroness Greenfield, Doctor of Science (2002)

John Inverdale, Doctor of Letters (2001)

Helena Kennedy QC, Doctor of Laws (2002)

John Nettles, Doctor of the University (2006)

Trevor Phillips, Doctor of the University (2006)

Courtney Pine OBE CBE, Doctor of Music (2010)

Mary Quant, Doctor of Design (2000)

Lord Rogers, Doctor of Design (2002)

Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Doctor of Science (2007)

Amartya Sen, Doctor of Science in the Social Sciences (2002)

John Simpson, Doctor of the University (2003)

Dame Janet Suzman, Doctor of the University (2002)

Baroness Warnock of Weeke, Doctor of Letters (2000)

1990s

Sir David Attenborough CBE FRS, Doctor of Science (1992)

John Lill OBE, Doctor of Music (1992)

Ludovic Kennedy, Doctor of Laws (1993)

Victoria Glendinning MA, Doctor of Letters (1994)

Evelyn Glennie OBE, Doctor of Music (1999)

Sir Marrack Goulding, Doctor of Science in the Social Sciences (1997)

Andrew Colin Renfrew, The Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, Doctor of Letters (1995)

1980s

Sir Hermann Bondi, Doctor of Science (1981)

Frank Templeton Prince, Doctor of Letters (1981)

The Rt Hon Shirley Williams, Doctor of Laws (1981)

Sir Ernest Donald Acheson, Doctor of Medicine (1984)

Baron Shackleton of Burley, Doctor of Science (1986)

1970s

Sir Hugh Casson, Doctor of Letters (1977)

His Excellency President Manfred Lachs, Doctor of Laws (1975)

Sir Claus Moser, Doctor of Science in the Social Sciences (1975)

Sir Eric Roll (The Lord Roll of Ipsden), Doctor of Laws (1974)

1960s

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1967)

Sir Keith Murray (The Lord Murray of Newhaven), Doctor of Laws (1964)

Our past and looking to the future

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