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Akala’s work as a writer and social entrepreneur affirms the humanities and social science disciplines represented by our graduates today. In 2009, he co-founded The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, a music theatre company which explores social, cultural and linguistic parallels between Shakespeare and modern hip-hop artists.
Akala has toured extensively, appearing at numerous festivals in the UK and internationally, and has led innovative projects in the arts, education and music across South East Asia, Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand.
He has appeared on Channel 4, ITV, MTV, Sky Arts and the BBC promoting his music and poetry, and speaking on subjects from music, race, youth engagement, British/African-Caribbean culture and the arts. His numerous online lectures and performances have attracted millions of views on YouTube.
He is also well known for his compelling lectures and journalism – having written for The Guardian, Huffington Post and The Independent, and having recently addressed The Oxford Union and TEDx.
Dr Marcus Colchester is the leading indigenous rights activist of our day. While studying anthropology in the ‘70s, he lived for two years with the Sanema Indians of the northern Amazon. He then joined Survival International, the famed UK NGO which fights for tribal peoples. There he worked to expose the human rights impacts of imposed development schemes in the Amazon, South East Asia, and beyond.
Marcus went on to become a founder of the World Rainforest Movement, an international network of activists worried about the destruction of the rainforests, and social justice.
In 1990, seven years after joining Survival, he left to set up his own organisation, the Forest Peoples Programme. This has developed into a highly significant NGO which campaigns for recognition of the indigenous rights of forest-dwelling people and the safeguarding of their forests. Today the Programme has an annual budget at least four times that of Survival. He has consulted for the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture (FAO) Programme of the UN, and a host of other global bodies.
As part of his campaigning, he has also published extensively in academic and NGO journals, as well as writing and editing a rich diversity of books.
Dr Alison Cronin received her BA and MA in Biological Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and her PhD in Animal Behaviour from the Open University in 2001. She has worked with Greek and Turkish authorities overseeing the confiscation of dancing bears in both countries.
In 1992, Alison became Scientific Director of Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre overseeing the rescue and care of primates with the park’s founder and Director Jim Cronin and Animal Director, Jeremy Keeling. In 2006 Jim and Alison Cronin were awarded MBEs for Services to Animal Welfare but sadly Jim passed away in 2007.
Monkey World has assisted the governments of 26 countries in stopping primate smuggling, by enforcing CITES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - legislation. Alison has also founded two UK Charities: the Endangered Asian Species Trust that supports the Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species Centre and rehabilitates and releases primates in Vietnam, and the Jim Cronin Memorial Fund for Primate Welfare and Conservation, which supports conservation education and other projects. The primate rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation work carried out by Alison and the dedicated teams at Monkey World and Dao Tien have been documented in the TV series Monkey Business and Monkey Life for 21 years.
Debbie Dance has been the Director of Oxford Preservation Trust since 1999. After an initial career as a chartered surveyor, she gained an MSc Historic Conservation at Oxford Brookes in 1993. She has since been at the heart of a number of award winning conservation projects, including the regeneration of Oxford Castle in 2006. She is involved in many other aspects of Oxford life and sits on the Board of the Oxford Playhouse.
Debbie has held a number of honorary national roles in heritage and is Chair of the Historic Chapels Trust. She was the national Conservation judge for International RICS Property Awards for many years and a Royal Institute of British Architects – RIBA - South Awards Judge in 2017.
Debbie was awarded an OBE for her services to Heritage in 2013.
Debbie has been a good friend to Oxford Brookes over the years. She has been a long serving member of the University court and recently delivered a talk as part of our Open Lecture series on role of preservation in building a positive future for Oxford.
Since graduating with a bachelor then a master’s degree in modern languages from Queen Mary, London University, Patricia Feeney has worked as a researcher at Amnesty International, Visiting Research Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, and Senior Policy Adviser for Oxfam. She served as a Human Rights Adviser at the Paris-based agency of the United Nations, UNESCO. She has written extensively on human rights, international development and corporate governance in post-conflict countries, producing five books, and a large volume of reports and articles on human rights and business. Patricia has advised the British Government on corporate governance and served on the board of the International Code of Conduct Association for Private Security Providers.
In 1998, Patricia Feeney founded a research and advocacy organisation, Rights and Accountability in Development; a pioneering organisation in business and human rights. As Executive Director, Patricia conducted research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. Rights and Accountability in Development has undertaken legal actions against mining companies in relation to war crimes. It has advocated for more effective regulation of companies with the aim or deterring, preventing and punishing corruption and complicity in the violation of human rights.
Agnes is not a typical scholar. Born in July 1944 in Budapest, then under German occupation, she is one of the youngest Holocaust survivors. Agnes spent the first months of her life in constant danger, fearing deportation or even worse. Together with her mother she lived for a few months in the Budapest Ghetto. Once the two of them were reunited with the father, in the spring of 1945, the family decided to leave Hungary, eventually arriving in England in 1947.
Agnes gained a BSc (Econ) Hons from Oxford College of Technology, joining the Civil Service in 1967 and later served the community as a JP. While most academics choose a research path early on in their lives, she only began researching and writing on the Holocaust in her fifties. A late start, however, is no less impressive than an early one. After gaining a Masters in Holocaust Studies from Sheffield University, Agnes went on to become an established scholar in the Holocaust studies. Her first book, The Other Schindlers, was published in 2010; she published Who Betrayed the Jews? In 2016 and her latest, Women’s Experience in the Holocaust came out in 2018.
Agnes is driven to communicate her interest in the Holocaust to the general public. She undertakes an arduous programme of lectures to a huge variety of groups, enjoying in particular lecturing to students whom she aims to inform and inspire to become better individuals. In 2016 she received an MBE from the Queen for her work as a Trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and for her services to the Jewish community and Holocaust awareness. In January 2018 she received an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield University.
Toby Jones grew up in and around Oxford. After studying at the University of Manchester and then at the Jacques Lecoq drama school in Paris, he gradually built a career in acting that sees him now established as one of the most talented British actors of his generation.
Toby’s versatility as an actor is astonishing – across the stage, radio, TV and film. You will have heard Toby’s voice work in films such as Tintin, and as Dobby in the Harry Potter series, and across a whole host of BBC Radio dramas. On television you will have seen Toby recently in Doctor Who and Sherlock, in adaptations of work by Joseph Conrad and Agatha Christie; and in Mackenzie Crook’s award-winning, gentle, rural comedy Detectorists for which he won a BAFTA for the Best Male Performance in a Comedy.
Arthouse directors have cast Toby in films such as the horrors Berberian Sound Studio and Kaleidoscope; in the fantastical Italian Tale of Tales, and in Leave to Remain, a poignant, timely work about immigrant life in Britain.
Toby is hugely popular with blockbuster and Hollywood directors too: you will have seen him in Captain America, Atomic Blonde, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Hunger Games. Earlier this year Toby was part of the ensemble cast in a film version of the RC Sherriff’s WW1 play Journey’s End, and right now you can see him being chased by scary things in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Very recently, Toby starred in a widely celebrated production of Pinter’s The Birthday Party in the West End.
He repeatedly demonstrates that he can adapt brilliantly to the requirements of any genre – comedy, tragedy, melodrama, fantasy, science fiction… His remarkable career is a magical journey to follow and looks set to continue to reach new heights, and we’ve been very lucky to have him visit and inspire our Drama students the last few years.
Professor Bee Wee qualified in medicine from Trinity College Dublin in 1988 and trained in general practice before moving into palliative medicine in Ireland, Hong Kong and the UK.
In 2013 she was appointed National Clinical Director for End of Life Care at NHS England, to provide strategic leadership for improving palliative and end of life care across England. She has held a number of influential positions in national and international organisations in this field and currently plays a leadership role in several others including the Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People and the National Palliative and End of Life Care Partnership. She is also Head of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Palliative Care, Oxford.
Bee remains active in clinical practice as Consultant Physician for Sir Michael Sobell House, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. As Associate Professor in the Nuffield Department of Medicine and Fellow of Harris Manchester College at the University of Oxford, she also continues to teach, supervise students and engage in research.
Her contribution to a project on promoting Inter-professional education in 2001, began her relationship with Oxford Brookes University and in 2010 she was appointed Visiting Professor, supervising PhD students and collaborating on funded research. She has been an inspiring influence for us all. It is highly appropriate that Bee Wee is honoured by our university.
Sarah is best known for her television appearances as an expert in the business world. She joined Dragons’ Den in 2015 and has appeared as a judge on BBC 2’s The Restaurant, hosted by chef Raymond Blanc (also an Honorary Graduate of Brookes).
She is a highly successful entrepreneur in her own right, starting with the Bombay Bicycle Club in London in 2004. After making her first million when she sold her stake in the company in 2007, she went to invest in a large number of companies including the London Cocktail Club which now has 9 bars and The Craft Gin Club which supplies 1 out of every 200 bottles of gin drunk in the UK.
Sarah is an alumna of Oxford Brookes having graduated with a degree in European Business in 1996 and continue to be a good friend to the University. She helped us launch our first founders’ day in 2016 with an inaugural lecture and hosted our own Dragons’ Den style event, when our students presented their own entrepreneurial projects.
The Sunday Times acknowledged her as one of the "35 most successful women under 35" in the UK and in 2016, she was named as one of their '500 Most Influential people in Britain'.
John Assael who studied
here, is chairman and co-founder of Assael Architecture, an award-winning
practice established over 20 years ago employing over 80 architects. He has won
numerous accolades, including The Sunday Times Architect of the Year in 2008,
2014, 2016 and the Best Small Company to Work For, for the past 6 years. He is Chair of the RIBA Journal, a nationally
elected councillor for both the RIBA (ongoing) and the Architects Registration
Board - a unique double, - member of the Architects Benevolent Society, and
Master for Students at the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.
John has become a
lifelong supporter of the school, as a visiting fellow since 2000, as well as
President of The Doric Club - an honour he shares with John Henry Brookes - the
Club which gave birth to the Oxford School of Architecture in 1927 and which is
celebrating its 90th Birthday this year.
John is passionate
about supporting the next generation of architects, not only through mentoring
and by giving lectures, but also in establishing the Assael Bursary of £1500 at
Oxford Brookes over the past 15 years.
Daniel Battsek’s career
is a truly brilliant example of the value of academic education. Of how places
like this, like us, can nurture and produce the talents that the creative
industries rely and prosper upon.
I like to think of
Daniel Battsek as an explorer, given that his professional journey has taken
him to three different continents before coming back to the UK.
As some of you might
know, last year Daniel Battsek was appointed Director of Film 4.
But before then he has
worked for some of the best known companies in the entertainment industry
worldwide – Disney, Buena Vista, Miramax, the Cohen Media Group – and for
Over the years he has
contributed to the development, production and distribution of dozens of
feature films. I will mention only three titles – The Queen, No Country for Old
Men and There Will Be Blood – all of which won the Academy Award, the Oscar.
But these titles and
these awards are just a small sample of a remarkable career that has
consistently sought to wed quality and entertainment.
A remarkable career
that started here with a Social Studies degree.
Geoffrey Donnelly has
had a long and varied career in leadership and management. After graduating
from UMIST with a degree in mathematics and management sciences, Geoffrey
pursued a career in personnel management with BOC Limited. Following this and
six years as a management consultant, Geoffrey went on to work for Marks &
Spencer, quickly being promoted to Financial Controller for a number of its
major cost centres.
From 1989 to 2001 he
was the Finance Director and Company Secretary of Legrand UK Limited and then
went on to develop a 'portfolio' career in interim management in the private
sector and non-executive director appointments both in the NHS and higher
education. This has included board appointments with the Higher Education
Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.
Geoffrey has many
notable personal achievements too, not least the fact that he once held the
Berkshire Under 17 1000m steeplechase record and the extraordinary fact that he
had a license to fly light aircraft before he had one to drive a car!
University has benefitted from Geoffrey’s wisdom and expertise for thirteen
years. He joined our Board of Governors
in April 2003 and served as the University's Chair of Audit, Chair of the
Finance and Resources Committee and Deputy Chair before being appointed Chair
in August 2012. His term of office came to an end last year.
It is hard to overstate
Geoffrey's enormous role in the development and progress of Oxford Brookes. His
sustained contributions in a huge range of areas over many years have helped us
enormously and we are very thankful for his guidance.
Stephen has been a
long-standing champion of Oxford Brookes, and has played a key role in the
University’s growing commitment to internationalism. As Chief Executive of the
Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, a UK grant-giving charity that promotes
mutual understanding between the UK and Japan, he has provided vital help in
expanding provision for the study of Japan and East Asia across a number of
university undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. With a grant from The
Nippon Foundation in Tokyo, he succeeded in setting up a nationwide £2.5
million funding programme that between 2008 and 2013 funded 13 new lectureship
posts in Japanese studies at 12 UK universities including one post, currently
held by Dr Louella Matsunaga, at Oxford Brookes. He launched a further £1.2
million programme in 2013 that is currently providing for 30 Japanese studies
postgraduate studentships per year until 2018, a programme from which Oxford
Brookes is further benefitting. His Foundation continues to give regular
support to a wide range of Japan-related activities at Brookes.
Stephen's career has
also included posts at the British Council and Japan Foundation. After his
retirement from Sasakawa in 2016, he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun
Gold Rays with Rosette by the Government of Japan for his services to UK-Japan
cultural and educational relations.
Tom is a chartered
professional engineer with over 30 years of international, commercial
experience as a practising engineer, medical physicist and computer scientist
with a focus on clinical and machine vision applications applied to the
analysis of human motion and shape.
Tom is a co-founder of
the Oxford Metrics Group plc headquartered in Oxford, and a Director of Vicon
Motion Systems located in Oxford and Denver, Colorado. He is a Fellow of the Institution of
Engineers, Australia, College of Biomedical Engineering, of the Royal Society
of Medicine and of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts,
Manufactures and Commerce.
Tom, who obtained a PhD
from Oxford Brookes in 2010, has contributed to the student experience at this
University in a number of ways over the years, including giving lectures,
offering work placements and advising both undergraduate and postgraduate
students in CCT. He is on the Industry
Advisory Board for the department.
Tom is also a Visiting
Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Staffordshire University,
researching the application of vision science to the measurement of cosmetic
defect and physical capability among children diagnosed with Adolescent
Idiopathic Scoliosis. In his spare time,
Tom is a sheep and cattle farmer in Somerset, UK.
An alumna of Oxford
Polytechnic, graduating in 1986, with a BA in English and History, Sian
Williams is a distinguished journalist, broadcaster and writer.
For more than thirty
years, she has worked in daily broadcast news – as a reporter, producer and
anchor of some of the BBC’s biggest shows. She is currently the main anchor on
5 News and also continues to make network television and radio shows for the
As well as journalism,
her passion is to learn more about how our brains work and whether they can be
re-wired, especially after a period of adversity or trauma. She has an MSc in Psychology, is a trained
trauma assessor and has made three Radio 4 series on the mind and the
brain. In 2016 she published her book
Rise: Surviving and Thriving after Trauma, a personal story of how we can
rebuild after a traumatic event shatters our life.
Sian has contributed to
the student experience at Brookes by offering careers advice to those thinking
about a future in the media. She has
talked to students studying in the Centre for Emergency and Development
Practice about her experience of reporting from disaster areas and the
responsibility when reporting news of people in such difficult
circumstances. In 2015 Sian delivered a
key lecture of our 150th anniversary programme.
Dr Cook has achieved
distinction and renown as a founder, leader and manager of major technology
businesses, and is widely recognised as a pioneer and outstanding practitioner
in the field of university technology transfer.
Early in his career,
although already qualified to doctoral level in physics, he undertook an HNC in
Engineering at Oxford Polytechnic and an accounting qualification to give him
the practical skills to address challenges to businesses in his field.
Dr Cook was an investor
in and founding Managing Director of two very successful start-up companies,
Oxford Semiconductor and Oxford Asymmetry.
He was appointed Managing Director of Isis Innovation, the University of
Oxford’s technology transfer company, in 1997. During the next 10 years, Isis
established over 60 spin-out companies valued in excess of £200M, supported
hundreds of licence agreements and consultancy assignments, and returned over
£5M in royalty income to the university.
Dr Cook combines his
expertise with a generous willingness to share his knowledge and experience and
has advised many universities and investment bodies, including this University
where he has served as the external member of the Commercialisation Review
Panel for over five years and was formerly a member of the Oxford Brookes
Professor Ellis is
Chief Executive of the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, a
Medical Royal College that is responsible for the education and training of
paediatricians in the UK and more widely supports the development of the child
health workforce internationally. Her international work also includes being
the Chair for a charity ‘Help 4 hurting children’ that trains children’s nurses and doctors in
Uganda and is a Trustee of the Tropical Health Education Trust a global health
organisation that trains and supports health workers through health
partnerships, enabling people in low and middle income countries to access
Professor Ellis is a
registered nurse and sick children’s nurse and has worked in nursing leadership
roles for many years including at the Department of Health at the Nursing and
Midwifery Council, in Higher Education, and for eight years she held the post
of Director of Nursing and Workforce Development at Great Ormond Street
Hospital for Children NHS Trust in London, UK.
As a nursing leader
over a sustained period of time and with a Nursing Times Leader award in 2014
and a Member of the British Empire award in 1998 for her outstanding
contribution to nursing.
Ann is currently Chief
Executive Officer of the Chartered Management Institute, where she has
leveraged her experience in leading organisations to promote best practices in
management and leadership, and improve management standards both locally and
internationally. Here, Ann has also been
instrumental in developing Women in Management, a network for professional
women wishing to progress their careers.
Ann began her career at
Procter and Gamble and managed a variety of international brands before rising
to global general manager. More recently, she was Global General Manager at the
British Standards Institution, where she led the training and certification
businesses to create a more customer–facing organisation.
Ann has also held board
positions at Boots and Yell, and was European Vice President at Mars. She has a
BA with distinction from Stanford University and MBA and MS degrees from
Columbia University and is the author of the FT Guide to Management. Ann is an
excellent role model for all our students.
She has a long association with the University and has contributed
regularly to the Women in Leadership forum established by Professor Janet Beer,
the former Vice Chancellor at Oxford Brookes and Professor Simonetta Manfredi
from the Business and Management Department within the Faculty of Business.
Leslie Griffiths is a
Superintendent Minister of Wesley’s Chapel in London and has been an ordained
Methodist minister since 1973. He served as a Methodist minister in Haiti for
ten years, which led to his role as an election observer there in 1990. He was
president of the Methodist Conference (the senior office in the church) in
1994-5, and in 2004 was made a life peer.
interests have led to connections with the Caribbean, Central and West Africa
and South Africa.
Leslie’s charitable roles,
among many, include the presidency of the Boy’s Brigade; the board of Christian
Aid; trusteeship of the Addiction Recovery Foundation and patron of the Missing
His interests in
education go back to his time as a lecturer in Medieval English at Lampeter,
and include involvement with a number of schools and universities in the UK and
He is the author of
seven books and has been a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on Radio
4 and Pause for Thought on Chris Evans’s Radio 2 breakfast programme.
Leslie has been a good
friend to Oxford Brookes, as patron of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and
Church History since 2007 and chair of the Centre’s advisory committee. He also
hosted a reception at the House of Lords to introduce members of both houses of
parliament to some of our excellence in research in 2009.
Paul has co-written the
two most successful sitcoms of the last 20 years - The Vicar of Dibley with
Richard Curtis, and Mrs Brown’s Boys with Brendan O’Carroll. In 2015 he and
Richard also wrote the screen version of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot starring Dustin
Hoffman and Judi Dench
Paul read English at
Cambridge and taught at John Mason School in Abingdon, where he wrote plays for
the students. This is where he learnt the craft that would lead to a Golden
Rose and an International Emmy.
Paul has been a producer
and script editor with credits including I’m Sorry I haven't A Clue, Spitting
Image, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Miranda.
Paul also believes in
the therapeutic power of comedy and uses that in his battle with Parkinson’s.
He recently presented a BBC documentary called Parkinson’s the funny side,
speaks at health conferences and writes pieces for Maggie’s, the cancer support
charity - including a most moving poem read in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Julie is a graduate
nurse who after a variety of clinical, management and director posts was
appointed as Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) in 2006
which has 1450 beds, £720m turnover, 8800 staff, and treats over 1,000,000
Julie is a member of a
number of influential bodies, including being an independent member of the
Office for Strategic Co-ordination of Health Research from 2009 to 2015. She is a founder member and past Chair of the
Shelford Group, comprising ten leading academic hospitals in England.
In 2011 she was asked
by the Government to be a member of the NHS Future Forum. In 2013, Julie was
asked by Secretary of State to lead the turnaround of two poorly performing
Trusts in special measures and has since helped two further Trusts. In 2014 she chaired the HSJ Commission on
Hospital Care for Frail Older People. In
2015 she was appointed interim Chief Executive of Heart of England NHS
Foundation Trust (as well as remaining Chief Executive of UHB), to help lead it
out of clinical and financial difficulties.
Julie was made a Dame
Commander of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours 2012. She has been included in the BBC Radio 4’s
Woman’s Hour list of the 100 most powerful women in the UK and in the HSJ lists
of the most influential clinical leaders.
Melanie Richards has a
highly distinguished career with more than 30 years of banking experience,
particularly in bank lending, debt restructuring and capital markets’
instruments. She is currently a Partner and Vice-Chairman at KPMG, which she
joined in 2000 to develop the Debt Advisory practice. In 2012 joined the KPMG
UK Board and in 2014 was appointed Vice Chairman.
successful career, Melanie has become an influential voice on the issue of
gender equality in the workplace both on the national and international stage.
She is a founding member of the 30% Club Steering Committee, a pioneering
campaign focused on increasing female representation in FTSE Boards and
Leadership. In 2013 she received the Opportunity Now’s Champion Award, the gender
campaign from Business in the Community, for her contribution to advancing,
promoting and embedding a diversity culture within the workplace. The following
year she joined the University of Harvard Women’s Leadership Board.
generously contributes her talent and time to charitable causes: She is Trustee
of the Eve Appeal, Orbis UK and a governor of Eastbourne College.
Michael Volpe joined
the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 1989, where his role was to
promote local cultural institutions. Within a few years he had persuaded the
Council to start its own opera company. Opera Holland Park, of which Michael is
the General Manager; it is now one of the UK’s most thriving, respected and
artistically innovative opera companies. Michael’s numerous duties range from
strategic planning and fundraising to selecting repertory and engaging
Michael is a powerful
advocate for the transformative nature of education. He attended an unusual
state boarding school, which took inner city boys and gave them an education
rich in music and drama. Since then, he has dedicated himself to promoting
opera as something everyone can enjoy. He is a regular voice in the national
press and his recent memoir Noisy at the Wrong Times is a passionate plea for
the arts to be taken seriously in schools. We consider him to be a superb
role-model for our students.