Conservationists of the built and natural world to receive honorary degrees

Tuesday, 21 August 2018


Two noted conservationists will receive honorary degrees as part of Oxford Brookes University’s late-summer graduations next week.

Debbie Dance OBE, Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust and Dr Alison Cronin MBE, Director of Monkey World, Ape Rescue Centre will be joining students in ceremonies on Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September.

Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University Professor Alistair Fitt said: “Debbie and Alison already have strong connections with Oxford Brookes. Debbie is an alumna of the University and has remained actively involved with the University over the years.

“Alison has also supported the University and a number of our masters students have conducted project work at Monkey World or gone on to work with Alison and her team. Our PhD students have also worked with her on a major conservation action plan in Vietnam.

“Honorary graduates are chosen according to how their particular achievements link with the work of the University and by awarding the degree, it allows us to acknowledge those whom we admire and respect. Both Alison and Debbie are exceptional role models to our students and on behalf of the University I am delighted to be awarding them an honorary degree."

Monkey World, Ape Rescue Centre does invaluable work in primate rescue, rehabilitation and conservation and has assisted the governments of 26 countries to stop primate smuggling. Alison’s work and that of her teams have been documented in the TV series Monkey Business and Monkey Life for the past 21 years. Alison was awarded an MBE in 2006 for Services to Animal Welfare. She also founded the Endangered Asian Species Trust.

Debbie-Dance-800x450Debbie has been the Director of the Oxford Preservation Trust since 1999. She has spent her career in the built and natural environment working as a chartered surveyor in the commercial market. She graduated from Oxford Brookes in 1993 having studied for a master’s in Historic Conservation. Debbie has been at the heart of a number of award-winning conservation projects including in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, and the Birmingham Back-to-Backs now owned by the National Trust. Debbie has also carried out a number of conservation projects, most notably the regeneration of Oxford Castle. She was awarded an OBE for her services to heritage in 2013.

Next week’s ceremonies follow graduations in June which saw British actor Toby Jones ad BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip hop artist Akala amongst those awarded honorary degrees.

This year’s graduation ceremonies are the first to be held in the new Sir Kenneth Wheare Hall. The hall’s transformation was part of the University’s latest campus developments which will see £220m of investment in the University’s estate over ten years.