Oxford Brookes University awards its honorary graduates as part of graduation celebrations

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Oxford Brookes University has acknowledged the achievements of key individuals by awarding honorary degrees during its graduation ceremonies this week (21-24 June 2011).

Oxford Brookes University has acknowledged the achievements of key individuals by awarding honorary degrees during its graduation ceremonies this week (21-24 June 2011).

Those who received honorary degrees were:

  • the internationally renowned artists Gilbert & George
  • Vice-President of the European Commission Lady Catherine Ashton
  • Head of Equality and Employment Rights Development for the TUC Sarah Veale CBE
  • Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit for the University of Oxford Professor Dame Valerie Beral.

Vice Chancellor Professor Janet Beer said:

'We are delighted to have honoured such distinguished figures at the same time as we recognise the hard work of our Brookes graduates. We passionately support the ethos of our founder John Henry Brookes that 'a goal of all formal education should be to graduate students to lead lives of consequence' and our honorary graduates have certainly fulfilled their promise.

'I believe that our students and the wider community will take inspiration from individuals who have both dedication and expertise in their respective fields.'

Gilbert & George's distinctive style has had a huge influence on the world's arts scene for over half a century and the pair won the prestigious Turner Prize in 1986. The work of Gilbert & George has gained notoriety for its challenging nature and has often celebrated difference and diversity.

The internationally-renowned artists have attained an iconic status with their own distinctive image and for their numerous high-profile exhibitions and pieces. Their individual artistic approach has been a key influence on modern art and young artists. One half of the celebrated artistic duo is already particularly familiar with the university, as George is an alumnus of the Oxford School of Art, which later became Brookes.

In addition to her role as the Vice-President for the European Commission, Lady Catherine Ashton became the first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the EU in late 2009. Lady Ashton has been an important and influential figure in British and European politics and Tony Blair appointed her as a Life Peer in the House of Lords in 1999. Lady Ashton has held a number of prominent political roles throughout her distinguished career including Leader of the House of Lords.

In this particular role, Lady Ashton played a key role in the Treaty of Lisbon which helped to provide the EU with a diplomatic body. Throughout her political life, Lady Ashton has also been recognised with a number of awards including 'Minister of the Year' (The House Magazine), 'Peer of the Year' (Channel 4) and 'Politician of the Year' (Stonewall Awards).

Sarah Veale CBE is the Head of Equality and Employment Rights Development for the TUC. Sarah has been an influential figure for the TUC for a number of years and she is the co-author of 'Your Rights at Work' which is the organisation's book on employment rights. As one of the foremost spokespeople for rights and equality in the workplace, Sarah's work was recognised with a CBE for services to diversity in 2006.

Sarah has been a member of a number of key committees including the Women's National Commission, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the Government's Regulatory Policy Committee. Sarah graduated from Brookes with a degree in English Literature and History and was President of the Students' Union.

Professor Dame Valerie Beral is currently leading important work as Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit for the University of Oxford; she is recognised for her seminal contributions to public health policy and also as a mentor to young scientists.

Dame Valerie has developed a strong international reputation in breast cancer epidemiology. She has received wide recognition for her research including honours from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Notes to Editors:

  • For any further enquires, including requests for further copies of photos from the honorary graduation ceremonies or the video of Gilbert and George performing their acceptance speech, please contact the Brookes PR team on 01865 484630 or 07919 258789.
  • Gilbert and George received their Honorary Doctorate of the University (HonDUniv) at the ceremony which took place on Wednesday 22 June, 5-6pm.
  • Lady Catherine Ashton received her HonDUniv at the ceremony which took place on Wednesday 22 June, 2-3pm.
  • Sarah Veale CBE received her Honorary Doctorate of Law (LLD) at the ceremony which took place on Wednesday 22 June, 10-11am.
  • Dame Valerie received her HonDUniv at the ceremony which took place on Thursday 23 June, 10-11am.