Press Office


Honorary graduates reflect University’s values


Influential leaders in their field are being recognised by Newcastle University this week.

Honorary degrees in law, music, science and engineering will be awarded at special ceremonies on 9 and 10 July in the University’s King’s Hall to five inspirational individuals, including former director of Sage Gateshead, Anthony Sargent CBE (pictured).
British urban planner and emeritus Professor Patsy Healey OBE; Harpal Singh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Research UK; US politician and environmental campaigner The Honorable Bruce Babbitt; and engineer and entrepreneur Tony Trapp are also being recognised.
As the director since the Sage Gateshead’s inception in 2000, Anthony Sargent has been a key player in the North East’s creative development.
Mr Sargent, who will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music (DMus), says “After my Oxford years I so nearly embarked on an academic instead of a producing and managerial career, so this is really a very special honour for me, also recognising as it does the enormous pioneering contribution Sage Gateshead’s education work has made in its first decade – within our region and also nationally and increasingly internationally.”
Harpal Singh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Research UK is being awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc).
He currently chairs the taskforce that is setting out a strategy for NHS cancer services in England for the next five years and has had a varied career, including as a medical technology entrepreneur and a brief period as a research scientist with the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
Harpal Kumar said: “It’s humbling to be awarded this honorary doctorate and to be joined by many esteemed individuals who have made valuable contributions both in the region and more widely. Cancer Research UK invests around £5million every year into research in Newcastle where our team of over 200 scientists, doctors and nurses are working to develop new cancer treatments.”
Receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law (DCL) is The Honorable Bruce Babbitt, US politician and environmental campaigner, who first came to Newcastle University on a scholarship in 1960.
While US Secretary of the Interior for eight years during President Bill Clinton’s administration he led on many major environmental projects, including the restoration of the Florida Everglades. He also helped to create 22 new national monuments, including the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument in Utah.
Emeritus Professor Patsy Healey, who is also receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law (DCL), has been widely recognised for her contribution to planning theory and practice.
In 2006, she became the first woman to receive the Royal Town Planning Institute’s (RTPI) Gold Medal for outstanding achievement in town and country planning.
She received an OBE for services to planning in 1999 and her numerous books and academic papers have been translated into several languages.
Engineer and entrepreneur Dr Tony Trapp, who is the driving force behind some of the North East’s most successful companies, is being awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering (DEng).
As one of the founding owner-directors of SMD, a subsea company originating in Newcastle University, he helped develop the business for 19 years.
In 1997, he established The Engineering Business to design and build offshore systems for the oil and gas, submarine telecom, defence and renewables industries. The company won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category, and in 2008 it was sold to Dutch shipbuilder IHC Merwede for £30m, with 20% of the sale value given to 70 staff.
Dr John Hogan, Registrar, says: “Newcastle University has a long tradition of awarding Honorary degrees to individuals who have distinguished themselves in their chosen field – people who, through talent, endeavour and determination have made a significant contribution to society.
“We are proud to honour these individuals whose outstanding contributions to society also embody the spirit and values of our University.”

Image credit: Mark Savage

published on: 7 July 2015