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CERN’s Director General and the man behind the O2 Arena are amongst those who will be given honorary degrees at the University of Birmingham graduation ceremonies later this month.

Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer and Matthew Key are key figures from the education, science and business sectors who will join more than 3,000 students who will graduate over eight winter ceremonies to receive their honours in the University’s Great Hall.

The students will be joined by:

Wednesday 14 December

1.45pm ceremony
Mr Michael Gilbert, Doctor of the University
Mike Gilbert is the Treasurer for the University of Birmingham as well as holding the roles of Trustee of the Birmingham Railway Museum, Director to Cullum Detuners Investments Ltd and Governor of Repton School. A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Mike qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand. His career has led him to work with companies such as Cadbury Schweppes and British Leyland. After developing a particular focus on education, Mike assumed responsibility for a number of HE external audits in the Midlands and later went on to become a Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

4.30pm ceremony
Professor Sir David Baulcombe, Doctor of Science
Sir David Baulcombe is presently Regius Professor of Botany, Royal Society Research Professor, and Head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Sir David is a molecular biologist - his research interest in plants focuses on how genes can be silenced and in the field of epigenetics. Sir David’s awards include the 2006 Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the 2008 Lasker Award for basic biomedical sciences, and the Wolf Prize for Agriculture in 2010. His interests include hill walking and sailing a Norfolk Punt. 

Thursday 15 December

10.30am ceremony
Mr Matthew Key, Doctor of the University
Matthew Key became Chairman & CEO of Telefόnica Digital in September 2011. Telefόnica Digital is a global company operating in 25 countries with 300 million customers. Prior to this Matthew worked for O2 becoming CEO in 2005. Specific highlights during Matthew’s period at O2 include becoming Apple’s exclusive partner for the iPhone and the opening of the O2 Arena. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Matthew has also held various financial roles with Vodaphone, Coca-Cola & Schweppes, Grand Metropolitan, and Kingfisher.

4.30pm ceremony
Mr Alan Davey, Doctor of Letters
Alan Davey is Chief Executive Officer of Arts Council England and has been responsible for reshaping the Arts Council and setting a ten year direction in the shape of ‘Achieving Great Art for Everyone’. Alan has held roles including Head of European Business Policy at the Medicines Control Agency and Director of Culture at the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. He is interested in all forms of Art and has a secret passion for Canadian Roots music.

Friday 16 December

1.45pm ceremony
Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer
Professor Rolf-Dieter Heuer is Director General at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. His work has focused on the study of electron-positron reactions, the development of experimental techniques, as well as the construction and operation of large detector systems. During his 15 years at CERN, Professor Heuer was appointed to a chair at the University of Hamburg and held the position of research director for particle and astroparticle physics at the DESY laboratory, a member of the Helmholtz association.  


Notes to Editors

There will be an opportunity to photograph each honorary graduand in the 15 minutes prior to each degree ceremony. Please phone the Press Office for accreditation.

For further information, University of Birmingham Press Office:

Jo Kite, tel: 0121 414 6681 or 07766 205630
Ben Hill, tel: 0121 414 5134 or 07789 921163
Amy Cory, tel: 0121 414 6029