Honorary graduates

Many of our alumni go on to receive honorary degrees as recognition for their outstanding contributions to their chosen fields.


Michael Acton Smith (BSc Geography, 1996)-Doctor of the University

Michael Acton SmithMichael Acton Smith is CEO, Creative Director and founder of children’s entertainment company Mind Candy – the force behind global children’s phenomenon Moshi Monsters.

Chris Addison (BA English, 1994)- Doctor of the University

Chris AddisonChris is an actor and one of Britain’s most popular comedians known for his roles on the BBC’s Mock the Week and The Thick of It. He also co-wrote and starred in BBC 2 sitcom Lab Rats and is a two-time nominee for the prestigious Perrier award.

Kay Alexander MBE (BA English, 1972)- Doctor of the University

Kay AlexanderKay is a former newsreader who worked at the BBC from the early 1970s until 2012. She was Chairman of the Birmingham Assay Office until 2012, is a former Director of the Birmingham Hippodrome and a Patron of Acorns Children's Hospice.

Dame Christine Braddock (BPhilEd Education, 1989)- Doctor of the University

Dame Christine BraddockChristine is the Principal and Chief Executive of the Birmingham Metropolitan College Group, and has nearly 30 years' experience in senior leadership of further education colleges. She became the High Sheriff of the West Midlands in March 2013. 

Professor John Fisher CBE (BSc Physics, 1976)- Doctor of Engineering

Professor John FisherProfessor Fisher is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds and Director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. Professor Fisher’s research initiative ‘50 active years after 50’ is investigating tissue-regeneration technology, developing new medical devices and therapies that could allow people to be as active during their second half century as they were in their first.

Dr Keith Palmer OBE (BSc Geology, 1968; PhD, 1971)- Doctor of the University

Dr Keith PalmerKeith is the founder and Chairman of CEPA and non-executive Vice-Chairman of investment bank, N M Rothschild & Sons Ltd. Keith is also currently Chairman of the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund and InfraCo, both public-private partnerships in international development.

Professor Pritam B. Sharma (MSc Thermodynamics, 1974; PhD Mechanical Engineering, 1978)- Doctor of Engineering

Professor Pritam SharmaProfessor Pritam B. Sharma is the Founder Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Technological University. He is a former Director of Delhi College of Engineering and Founder Vice-Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi Technology University, Bhopal.

Sir Hossein Yassaie (BSc Electronic and Electrical Engineering, 1979; PhD, 1983)- Doctor of the University

Sir Hossein YassaieSir Hossein Yassaie is the Chief Executive of Imagination Technologies, the company integral in the development of the iPhone5. Sir Hossein was knighted in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List for services to technology and innovation.


Ann Widdecombe (BA Latin 1969)- Doctor of the University

Ann was a Member of Parliament for Maidstone, and then Maidstone and The Weald from 1987 until her retirement in 2010. Previous to her parliamentary career Ann worked in marketing at Unilever, and as a senior administrator at London University. Ann has held several parliamentary positions including Minister of State for the Department of Employment, Minister of State for the Home Office, and Shadow Health Secretary. She has enjoyed a successful writing career penning a number of books one of which, The Clematis Tree, rose to number eight in the Times Best Seller List.

David Murray (BMus Music 1975) - Doctor of Music

David is the Director of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales. After a period of research, David joined the BBC Radio 3 Music Department. He has held senior posts at EMI Classics and Deutsche Grammophon, and has won an abundance of major international classical awards. David has close links with the CBSO and helped design the acoustics of Symphony Hall. In his current position David’s concert hall home is the BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff Bay, a purpose-built hall which David led.

Professor Jude Kelly OBE (BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 1975) – Doctor of Letters

Jude is the Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, Britain’s largest cultural institution. She founded Solent People’s Theatre and Battersea Art Centre and was the Artistic Director of the York Festival and Mystery Plays. In 1997, Jude was awarded an OBE for services to the theatre. She has directed over 100 productions and worked with organisations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company. Jude is the founding member of Metal which provides a platform where artistic hunches can be pursued in community context.

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen (MBChB Medicine 1976) – Doctor of the University

Andrew is currently Chair of the Guild Trustee Board. A trained surgeon, he joined the staff of the British Medical Association as Scottish Secretary, and then Head of Policy. He recently retired from BUPA, where he was accountable for the safety and quality of care of BUPA’s 11 million customers. He is a keen advocate of improved doctor-patient communications, measurement of clinical performance and shared decision making, and is actively involved in the fields of healthcare and education, including chairmanship of UK Trade and Investment’s Healthcare Business Group.

Sir Alex Markham (BSc Chemistry 1971, PhD Chemistry, 1974)- Doctor of the University

Alex is Professor of Medicine at the University of Leeds, and has over 15 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries. In 1990 he was recognized by the Queen’s Award for Technological Achievement for the worldwide development of DNA fingerprinting for forensic and medico-legal applications. He was Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK from 2003 to 2008, and currently chairs the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, which will research the use of NHS electronic patient records. Professor Sir Alex was knighted for ‘Services to Medicine and Healthcare’ in 2008.

Kevin Issac (MIS Diplomacy 1995) – Doctor of the University

Kevin has had an extensive career as a diplomat. He is the youngest and first career diplomat of the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis to be elevated to the rank of High Commissioner/Ambassador. He is a graduate of the Universities of Toulouse-Mirail, West Indies, Birmingham and Warwick. He is the St Kitts and Nevis Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation, and Governor on the Board of the Commonwealth Secretariat. High Commissioner Isaac is also a published poet.