Today marks the start of two weeks of graduation ceremonies for Middlesex University students, the first in-person events since 2019 due to the pandemic.
While Graduation is the pinnacle of a student’s journey at MDX, the University also has the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements and successes of both alumni and other outstanding individuals who are making a difference to society.
This year MDX is awarding Honorary Degrees to individuals who have excelled in the fields of Law, Business, Health and Creative Industries.
Middlesex University Vice-Chancellor Professor Nic Beech said: “This is a chance to celebrate everything that is great about Middlesex and reflect on the resilience that we have shown to get through the challenges of the pandemic. Every student graduating this week has been pushed out of their comfort zones and has had to adapt to new ways of learning - congratulations to every one of you.
“Graduation also provides the opportunity to recognise and welcome the outstanding individuals who contribute to their professions, society and to Middlesex. I am so pleased to have the chance to celebrate the achievements of this year’s Honorary Doctorates. I hope that they will continue to build upon the relationship that they already have with us to create lasting partnerships as we move forward towards our strategic goals.”
The scheduled programme is as follows:
MONDAY 4 JULY
The celebrations begin with alumnus Christopher Raeburn receiving his Award.
Christopher is a pioneer of sustainability in fashion design and since graduating from London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, his pioneering work has brought responsible design to a global audience and presents a new definition of luxury with integrity.
Christopher studied BA Fashion Design at MDX from 2001 to 2004 and has previously said that it was his time as an MDX student that paved the way for RÆMADE. Founded in 2009, the company focussed on a concept called Remade in England - taking original artefacts like parachutes, silk maps and blankets and making them into new, contemporary and wearable items.
Surplus fabrics and garments are reworked to create innovative and functional pieces.
Award-winning products offer distinct utilitarian value and purpose.
The innovative approach, with an unusual balance of high concept, accessibility and wearability, is applied to menswear, womenswear, luggage and accessories.
Most recently, RÆBURN’s newly opened Marshall Street, Carnaby Store was awarded the most Sustainable Store Design in the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2022.
Speaking during the ceremony, Christopher said: "I owe much of my career to formative experiments at Middlesex university - my first Remade jacket, patchworked together from original 1950's battledress jackets, will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. I still have it in the RÆBURN archive today where it forms both a proud memory and an important anchor in our regular tour programme at our studio space at the RÆBURN Lab in East London.
"When I started my company the notion of sustainability was still in its embryonic beginnings, over the last decade or so the whole narrative has changed and the biggest factor in that change has been new thinking and a new generation demanding more of brands, governments and importantly themselves. So, my message to you all as you start out on your careers is that you should never underestimate how the impact of the work you've done at Middlesex and the things you've learned over the past few years should guide you but it's also up to you to continue pushing, asking difficult questions, not taking the easy path and ultimately challenging yourself and others to make positive change.
"In the fashion industry (but I'm sure in others) the next ten years will be the defining chapter of our time - we have an opportunity to harness the best of technology and regenerative natural practices to make that positive difference but it'll be the people behind the industry that will really need to lead the way; those people are you guys today so good luck for tomorrow."
Sir Richard Alston CBE is a highly decorated choreographer with a long association with MDX.
Sir Richard Alston with Middlesex University Vice-Chancellor Professor Nic Beech
Educated at Eton and Croydon Art College, Sir Richard enrolled in 1967 at the newly formed London Contemporary Dance School, creating his first choreography in 1968.
Four years later he formed Strider, Britain’s first independent dance company but moved to New York in 1975 to study principally with Merce Cunningham and Alfredo Corvino.
After returning to England Sir Richard taught and choreographed independently before joining Ballet Rambert as Resident Choreographer in 1980.
Here he stayed for 12 years, becoming Artistic Director in 1986.
In 1992 Sir Richard took up the Artistic Directorship of The Place, where he ran his own company for 25 years.
When he formed Strider in 1972, Sir Richard was supported by Wendy Cook and David Henshaw who were both involved in setting up the Dance department at the University’s old Trent Park campus.
Sir Richard said: “David in particular continued to support (and question) my work right through my years at Rambert- he certainly kept me on my toes, demanding but extremely positive. I remember him with real affection.
“Years later an important and formative figure in my creative life, Robert Cohan, returned to Britain from a long sojourn in France and Anne Donnelly, who had danced for Bob over many years, reached out and offered him the opportunity to work with her students here at Middlesex.”
Robert became a visiting professor at MDX and Sir Richard recalls attending one of his lectures which was a conversation with Chris Bannerman, a long term dancer for Robert.
Sir Richard added: “A founding member of my own company Chris Tudor joined the Faculty at Middlesex and a few years ago taught brilliantly to graduating students a dance of mine, Brisk Singing. I loved the way the students did this piece- I still haven't forgotten their passionate attack.
“Anne has also been wonderfully supportive to me over a long period for which I am very grateful. All these connections certainly make me feel 'at home' and very happy to be offered a Doctorate here.”
TUESDAY 5 JULY
Caroline Paige is a retired Royal Air Force (RAF) navigator with a thirty-five-year flying career.
She flew air defence fighter aircraft during the Cold War and troop helicopters in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
In 1999, Caroline became the first openly transgender officer to serve in the British Armed Forces, winning four commendations for ‘exceptional service’ on the frontline and as a trailblazer, helping shape diversity and inclusion in the military.
Since retiring from the RAF in 2014, Caroline has championed LGBT+ inclusion in schools, universities, businesses, organisations and the media.
In 2020, Caroline won the British Ex-Forces in Business Awards’ Champion of Women Award.
Caroline is Joint CEO of Fighting With Pride which was launched in January 2020.
The charity is leading the health and wellbeing support of LGBT+ veterans, serving personnel and families.
She said: “I am humbled and tremendously honoured by this Award. When I was first invited by MDX LGBT+ network to speak about my lived experience and my work in diversity and inclusion, I was impressed by a university that not only celebrates diversity but was working incredibly hard to be leaders in equality and inclusion, recognising that people perform at their best when they can be themselves.
"Each time I connect with Middlesex I see that unfailing commitment grow. This Award embodies the exceptional value that MDX places on EDI.”
Caroline gave the following advice to graduating students: “We are at our best when we are free and safe to be ourselves, and we are far stronger when we work at our best, together.
“As you begin the next chapter in your life, remember the values of this incredible learning institution. Be true to those values and to yourselves and you will set others free too.”
WEDNESDAY 6 JULY
Professor David Croisdale-Appleby OBE is a leading expert on health and social care, whose passionate commitment to transforming the life chances of oppressed, vulnerable and disadvantaged people has been hugely influential in shaping social policy, nationally and internationally.
Throughout his life, David has led many public sector organisations in medicine, health and social care, social work, forensic science and criminal and civil justice.
He wrote an independent review of social work education which was hugely welcomed by the profession and created a programme of public lectures on the new Integrated Care Systems on which our future health service will be based. Both were commissioned by the government.
David’s association with MDX began in 2019 as part of the Think Ahead programme of education for mental health social work.
This rapidly expanded into involvement across the whole Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, including David giving a public lecture on The Integration of Health and Social Care.
David said: “To be awarded an Honorary Doctorate by this distinguished university is a very great honour, and it is truly inspirational to receive the ward as part of such a lovely graduation day, in the presence of successful students, their families and friends, and academic colleagues.
“The University’s long-term strategy which will shape the future of its educational and research provision is centred on creating knowledge and put it into action in order to develop fairer, healthier, more prosperous and sustainable societies. This is a mission which accords very strongly with my own life’s work, both in its purpose of transforming outcomes for individuals, communities and organisations and of empowering people to change their lives.”
David said he was ‘deeply impressed’ with the way that MDX works in multiple partnerships, brings people together to address and create solutions to deep societal problems and works in practical ways to transform learning provision in response to global challenges.
He said: “My message for fellow graduates today is a simple one: every one of you will have the opportunity to bring about change, because that is what this inspirational University helps equip you to do: change in economic wellbeing, change in social justice, and change for the benefit of humankind. Be prepared to be defined by the choices each and every one of you makes.”
Carrie Grant MBE is a BAFTA award-winning broadcaster with a TV and music career spanning 40 years.
She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate and an MBE in 2020 for her services to Music, Media & Charity.
Carrie presents for The One Show and has the biggest selling vocal coaching book in the world and together with her husband, David, Carrie presents BBC Radio London’s Saturday Breakfast Show.
Carrie is also a leadership coach, having worked with hundreds of companies and organisations and is currently studying for an MA in Theology at Durham University.
Carrie is an Ambassador for Crohn’s & Colitis UK as well as being ambassador for The Diana Award, The National Autistic Society and Adoption UK and Patron of the Mental Health Charity, Beyond.
She has four children, one of whom was adopted. All have additional needs, two have autism.
Carrie and David run a support group for over 170 autism families. She grew up in Enfield and still lives close to MDX so says the university has always been on her radar.
Commenting on her Award she said: “This degree will open doors, particularly in the areas that I move and work in and campaign for, so it is really like a calling-card. It means that for people who will otherwise say you are just a vocal coach off the telly, it adds weight to the status that I would have in some of the circles that I am able to move and shake in.
“My message to all the students would be to make use of all the work that they have done.
“The work you do in your life has a direct impact on what comes next. That studying and hard work will open up doors to the next part of their life.
“That was the prep, this is the actual bit where they can get out and live it.
“This is a doorway moment- now you can get out there and change the world.”
MDX alumnus Simon Woolley, Baron Woolley of Woodford, is a political equalities activist.
He is the founder and director of Operation Black Vote and Trustee of the charity Police Now.
Simon has been a crossbench member of the House of Lords since October 2019, and is the former Chair of the Government's Race Disparity Unit Advisory Group.
After becoming interested in politics, Simon worked to inspire and inform black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals and to empower communities and to integrate better politics education into the school curriculum.
The Esmee Fairburn Foundation estimated that Woolley's efforts encouraged millions of people to vote and in 2008, the Government Equalities Office released Woolley's report How to achieve better BME political representation.
He was appointed to the Equalities Commission in 2009 and has launched two governmental investigations to tackle the alienation of black youth, the political representation of black and minority ethnic women and to highlight racial discrimination.
In 2019, after finding that of 200 councillors in South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset, none was from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background, Operation Black Vote launched a ground-breaking report into more than 130 key local authorities that emphasised the lack of BME representation.
Simon has secured £90 million of funding to encourage disadvantaged young people to work.
In 2019 Simon received a knighthood and was created Baron Woolley of Woodford in the same year.
Last year he became the first black man to be the head of an Oxbridge college.
Simon said: “The life that I have today, as both a parliamentarian and as head of an Oxbridge college, Homerton all started at Middlesex University.
“To be honest I was like a sponge and it was the floodgates of knowledge. I particularly learning about politics in difficult places such as Central America and South America. And as a result I came back to London thinking that I too can change the world and in no small measure we did.”
Asked for his message to students, Simon said: “It’s been a great day. It’s wonderful to be with these amazing students at this great University. One where I started my political activism and career in wanting to change the world. I just hope that people will have the confidence and self-belief that they too can change the world too.
“Start by looking in the mirror and saying yes I can and yes must make a difference in the world. I hope graduates feel emboldened and empowered to be great citizens to do extraordinary things."
THURSDAY JULY 7
Brian Holliday is Managing Director for Siemens Digital Industries, a technology company serving the manufacturing and industrial-infrastructure sectors.
A Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Brian started his career as an apprentice with Texas Instruments and went on to read Computer Systems at Cardiff University before joining Siemens in 1993.
He attained his Executive MBA at Manchester Business School in 2000 and in 2014 became a graduate of the CBI’s Executive Leadership Programme.
Brian co-chairs the Government and Industry, Made Smarter Commission and has held long-standing board positions at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Make UK, the Manufacturers’ Organisation.
He is a member of the CBI’s Manufacturing Council and Royal Society’s Science, Industry and Translation Committee and has contributed to Parliamentary Select Committees and the manufacturing media on the topics of Education and Digital Manufacturing.
Brian’s association with MDX began in 2017 when the UK’s first Cyber Factory training facility, which featured Siemen’s advanced automation technology, was installed at the university’s Ritterman Building.
Brian said: "It’s wonderful to be part of this pandemic delayed, in-person ceremony at Middlesex University and to be recognised for my career contribution to industry. I am proud of my association with the University through joint interests in automation and robotics as well as Industry 4.0 education through the Connected Curriculum.
"Notably, I was upstaged by the Engineering Faculty’s Pepper the Robot at the Oct 2018 Education Select Committee!
“My message to Middlesex students? The way we work with others is as important as what we know, but seek out and say yes to the opportunities that stretch you most through your working life - they help you grow and consistently become the most rewarding moments.”
Dame Judith Hackitt is an engineer by training and spent her early career working in the chemicals industry.
She is a former President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and a Fellow and Trustee of the Royal Academy of Engineering. Throughout her career she has championed the importance of Engineering in delivering solutions which provide benefit to society and has been a role model, particularly for young women wanting to enter the profession.
Dame Judith has a continued passion for Manufacturing and Engineering and cares deeply about safety in the workplace and beyond.
From 2007 to 2016 she was Chair of the Health and Safety Executive and in 2017 conducted an Independent Review for UK Government into Building Regulations and Fire Safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Since publishing her final report in 2018 Dame Judith has continued to press for regulatory change and for industry culture change and her recommendations for radical reform of the regulatory system recently received Royal Assent in the Building Safety Act 2022.
Dame Judith said: “I am delighted to be receiving an Honorary Doctorate from Middlesex University and to be joining the cohort from the School of Engineering on this landmark day for all of them. “There has never been a more exciting or challenging time to be an engineer so the opportunities which lie ahead for those graduating today to make a real difference in the world are limitless.”