The University of Birmingham is delighted that its Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, announced today.


Sir David has been honoured in recognition of his remarkable services to higher education and the drive and commitment he has shown to enhancing the UK’s reputation in this field. Donna Willmetts, College Facilities Manager for the College of Social Sciences, received a British Empire Medal for services to higher education.

Sir David is currently chair of the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities and chair of Universitas 21, the leading global network of research universities. He has also been Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and is currently a Director of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a Board Member of Universities UK (UUK), a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and a member of the Advisory Board of the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Mr Ed Smith, CBE, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University of Birmingham Council, said: “I am delighted for David, his family, and our University with this recognition of his huge contribution to higher education throughout his working life. I know all of my colleagues on Council and across our excellent university will join with many others in universities and beyond academe in the West Midlands, the UK and across the world to congratulate David on this most well deserved honour.”

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “David has contributed hugely to the work of Universities UK over the years. I can’t think of any occasion where he has not been willing to assist and advise, whether through membership of our Board, on working groups, or simply in a personal capacity. David is always willing to share his extensive experience, wisdom and judgement, giving his time generously not just for the benefit of Universities UK but for colleagues across the entire sector.

“I know that all of us at Universities UK are absolutely delighted at this extremely well-deserved recognition.”

Sir David was a Fellow in Modern History and Senior Tutor of Pembroke College, Oxford between 1988 and 1995. He was subsequently Professor of Modern History and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University; Chief Executive of the Arts & Humanities Research Board; and Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia. Since 1991 he has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has published extensively on the history of the British state, the history of ideas, and electoral politics.

Within the West Midlands he is currently a Board Member of Marketing Birmingham, a Deputy Lieutenant for the county of West Midlands and has been a Board Member of the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group of Universities, said: “Congratulations to Professor Sir David Eastwood on his Knighthood. As Chair of the Russell Group he is a formidable advocate for research intensive universities, like the University of Birmingham, helping us demonstrate the importance and unique role Russell Group universities play in the UK and across the world.”

Mrs Willmetts, who has worked at the University for 29 years, supports the University's core activities by managing the services,buildings and physical resources in an integrated and co-ordinated way. Her work ensures a safe and efficient working environment for staff and students.Demonstrating her enthusiasm and desire to help others, she learned sign language and in 2009 became a trustee at Deaf Direct, a charity that promotes empowering opportunities to the community of deaf and hard of hearing people in Hereford, Oxford and Worcester. She also works as a volunteer.

Mrs Willmetts said: "I have worked at the University for almost 29 years and can honestly say I have loved every minute of it! My other enthusiasm is my role as Trustee at Deaf Direct in Worcester. Like most charitable organisations it struggles to get funding yet it is an essential service for the Deaf community. I have no direct links with deafness but feel passionate about raising awareness of deafness and its impact; and feeling the need to promote equality, diversity and human rights at work. Through this service I can hopefully give something back to the community and play a small part in the lives of those who have possibly been less advantaged. It is a real privilege and very exciting to have been awarded a British Empire Medal."

For more information please contact Deborah Walker, Head of Communications, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 6681. Outside of office hours please call +44 (0) 7789 921165 or email the Press Office.

  • The University of Birmingham has been named The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013/4.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • The University is home to nearly 30,000 students. With more than 7,500 postgraduate students from across the world, Birmingham is one of the most popular universities for postgraduate study in the UK.
  • The University plays an integral role in the economic, social and cultural growth of local and regional communities; working closely with businesses and organisations, employing approximately 6,000 staff and providing 10,000 graduates annually.