Honorary Graduates 2017 announced

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sian Williams

Former BBC broadcaster and journalist Sian Williams will receive an honorary degree at Oxford Brookes University later this month.

Further recipients include Director of Film4 Daniel Battsek, chairman of award-winning practice Assael Architecture John Assael and former Chair of the Board of Governors at Oxford Brookes Geoffrey Donnelly.

They will be joined at the June graduation ceremonies by Dr Tom Shannon – co-founder of the Oxford Metrics Group and Stephen McEnally – former British Council Officer and Chief Executive of The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.

Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Professor Alistair Fitt said: “I am honoured that such inspirational figures are joining us for some of the University’s most important and memorable celebrations.

This year many of our Honorary Graduates already have strong links with Brookes – whether they have contributed to our students’ experience in the past such as giving lectures or valuable career advice, or studied here themselves.

Professor Alistair Fitt, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University

“Each of our honorary degree recipients is an exceptional role model for our students and staff and when graduating students hear an Honorary Graduate speak, they receive an important reminder of what can be achieved. 

“This year many of our Honorary Graduates already have strong links with Brookes – whether they have contributed to our students’ experience in the past such as giving lectures or valuable career advice, or studied here themselves.

“Honorary Graduates are chosen very carefully, and we always assess how their strengths link with the work of the University. The conferment of the degree allows Oxford Brookes to acknowledge those whom we admire and respect.”

Sian Williams is an alumna of Oxford Polytechnic and is a journalist, broadcaster, writer and would-be psychologist. For more than 30 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 continues to make network television and radio shows for the BBC. Sian 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. She has contributed to the student experience at Oxford Brookes by offering careers advice to those thinking about a future in the media. She has also 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 difficult circumstances. In 2015, Sian delivered one of the stand-out lectures of the University’s 150th anniversary lecture programme. 

Daniel Battsek joined Film4 as Director in 2016, bringing 30 year of production, development and distribution experience to the organisation. Daniel previously held post as President of the New York-based Cohen Media Group for three years where he oversaw the acquisition and release of arthouse/crossover releases including back-to-back Oscar nominees Timbuktu and Mustang, as well as CMG’s development and production state. Prior to this, he was President at National Geographic Films, where he acquired projects for development and production including the Oscar nominated documentary Restrepo, as well as National Geographic branded large screen and Imax 3D projects. In 2005, Daniel relocated to New York where he served as President, Filmed Entertainment at Miramax Films for five years. He has previously held the position of EVP and Managing Director, UK Distribution and European Production and Acquisitions at Buena Vista International (BVI) UK, where he oversaw all aspects of UK distribution for 18-25 releases per year from Walt Disney Studios and their partners including Pixar and Miramax Films. At BVI, Daniel set up a Comedy Production Label in 2001 which financed and produced three films including Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots.

Geoffrey DonnellyGeoffrey Donnelly (picture above) was appointed as the Chair of the Board of Governors at Oxford Brookes University in August 2012 until he formally handed the role over in August 2016. Geoff served as a Governor of the University for 13 years since April 2003 and before taking his role as chair, he served as the University’s Chair of Audit, Chair of its Finance and Resources Committee and Deputy Chair. After graduating from UMIST with a degree in Mathematics and management sciences, Geoff pursued a career in personnel management with BOC Limited. This was followed by six years as a management consultant based in Manchester, to broaden his management skills. Geoff then joined Marks and Spencer through the audit route and quickly became Financial Controller for a number of the major cost centres of this well-known retailer. While at Marks and Spencer he also studied part-time for an MA in Accounting and Finance. In the HE sector he has held board appointments with the Higher Education Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. He is currently a director of the University of Cumbria.

John Assael (pictured below) is an alumnus of Oxford Brookes University’s predecessor institution Oxford Polytechnic, is chairman and co-founder of Assael Architecture, an award-winning practice. He has won numerous prizes including The Sunday Times Architect of the Year in 2008, 2014 and 2016, and the Best Small Company to Work For category for the past six years. He is Chair of the RIBA Journal, a nationally elected councillor for both the RIBA and the Architects Registration Board, a 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 of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, a visiting fellow since 2000 as well as president of The Doric Club. As well as mentoring at Oxford Brookes, John is passionate about supporting the next generation of architects, not only by giving lectures, but in establishing the Assael Bursary at Oxford Brookes over the past 15 years. 

John AssaelDr Tom Shannon (pictured below) 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. He is a co-founder of the Oxford Metrics Group plc headquarters in Oxford and a Director of Vicon Motion Systems located in Oxford and Denver, Colorado. Tom obtained a PhD from Oxford Brookes in 2010 and has contributed to the student experience at the University in a number of ways including giving lectures, offering work placements and advising both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Department of Computing and Communication Technologies. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, the College of Biomedical Engineering, of the Royal Society of Medicine and of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Tom Shannon

Stephen McEnally has worked in international cultural relations for over 40 years, playing a key role in the expansion of Oxford Brookes’s programmes into Japan and East Asia. A modern languages graduate from Durham University, he worked for the British Council in Japan, Korea and Moscow before moving to the Japan Foundation in 1994. In 2006, he was appointed Chief Executive of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, launching major programmes to fund lectureships and studentships in Japanese studies at Brookes and elsewhere. He is Senior Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies and Associate Member of the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies, University of Oxford. He was recently awarded the Order of the Rising Sun Gold Rays with Rosette by the Japanese Government for services to UK-Japan cultural and educational relations. 

The honorary degrees will be awarded at ceremonies in the Oxford Brookes Centre for Sport on the Headington Campus. Start times for the ceremonies are:

Monday 19 June
John Assael 10.00am
Dr Tom Shannon 3.00pm
Daniel Battsek 5.00pm

Tuesday 20 June
Sian Williams 5.00pm

Thursday 22 June
Geoffrey Donnelly 10.00am

Friday 23 June
Stephen McEnally 10.00am